Since the LA Auto Show, the automotive world has been abuzz with news of BMW’s new MINI-E, which is set to launch in a limited test-fleet release in the New York City and Los Angeles metropolitan markets in 2009. Initial reports also stated that the MINI-E would be made available in Canada and later in Europe sometime further into 2009. As a brand that prides itself on having its finger on the pulse of what its loyal fanbase customers want, this is a crucial step for MINI, particularly while the state of the world automotive industry is very obviously undergoing some serious transformation.
However, it seems that the reports coming out of BMW have now changed somewhat. According to an AutoExpress posting, BMW have now said that they don’t intend to release the MINI-E as anything other than a limited test model, from which they hope to glean much useful data in order to power the future of both the BMW and MINI brands. This is due in large part to the lithium-ion power pack needed to power the MINI-E necessitating complete removal of the back seating area in the car. On larger BMW models, such as the 5 series and their SUV lines, it will be markedly easier to find someplace to stow the power-pack without sacrificing passenger and/or cargo space.
So which is it? The latter idea makes more sense, but it will be a shame if the technology doesn’t improve to the point where a mass-market MINI-E is possible.