MINI’s first ever hybrid car is almost production ready. This will be a first for the premium car maker whose cars are famed for their go-kart-like handling characteristics. Mini promises that their first ever hybrid vehicle will not be built entirely around efficiency but will be endowed with a unique sense of sportiness.
The chassis and suspension remain unchanged from the car’s fossil fuel variants. The batteries are stowed away underneath the rear seats. This coupled with electric motor and other ‘e-drive’ components which are situated low down in the car, giving it a low centre of mass compared to the standard models, ensures even weight distribution in the car. The electric motor powers only the rear wheels while the internal combustion engine powers the front axle. This means that when the petrol engine works in tandem with the electric motors the car is all wheel drive but when only the electric motor is running the car is rear wheel drive.
MINI has stressed that making a hybrid will not take away any of the driving pleasure. As a result the car has been engineered to be driven in electric mode for speeds of up to 125kph. Speeds obtainable not in the inner city where fuel efficiency is a concern but on the free way and back routes. The batteries which power the electric motor can be charged on the go by the internal combustion engine. Since this is a plug in hybrid it can also be charged from a normal wall socket.
No official launch date for the car has been announced but it should be expected to debut at the upcoming motor shows in the first quarter of next year.