The original Mini launched in 1959 during an oil crisis. It was based on the idea of saving fuel and transporting four occupants and their luggage in a small footprint.
BMW (the parent company of MINI) has created a new project to modernize the classic Mini. They do so by swapping the original petrol powertrain with an electric one. Electric motor conversions for classic cars are not new (I covered this previously in the articles below). The difference here is that BMW/MINI factory techinicians are performing the conversion.
MINI Recharged Project
If Alec Issigonis could design the classic Mini again today, the iconic small car would likely have an electric motor (or so says BMW). MINI currently sells the all-electric Cooper SE, but prior to that vehicle’s introduction in 2022, a classic Mini Electric was built in 2018 and shown at the New York Auto Show.
The reactions were so positive that a dedicated team from MINI Plant Oxford got to work on a plan to make similar conversions available to customers who own a classic Mini.
- The original engine is replaced with a modern electric drivetrain.
- Energy is supplied by a high-voltage battery, which can be charged with an output of up to 6.6 kW and has a predicted range of around 100 miles.
- Only reversible changes are made to the car, to allow restoring it back to original condition at a later date (the original engine is marked and stored for the owner).
- Every electrified classic from MINI Recharged receives the characteristic central instrument cluster. It now displays the drive temperature, the selected gear, range and speed.
- Each converted vehicle is given an individual number, making it unique.
- This “upcycling” of the classic Mini is carried out exclusively in the United Kingdom at MINI’s plant in Oxford.
True to the MINI Brand
The MINI Recharged project extends the vehicle’s life in a sustainable way. A classic Mini can now be given a new lease on life, accompanying its owner into the future, while maintaining its much-loved heritage.
In addition, MINI Recharged fans gain a whole new driving experience–a silent drivetrain with instant acceleration and the ability to enter the electric or low-emission driving zones of many large cities.
This program also fits into the brand’s future strategy, which also includes the aspect of a circular economy. For this project, no new vehicles are being produced. Instead, they are being created from much-loved, existing cars. It allows a classic Mini to begin a second, more sustainable life.
Classic car purists may scoff at the idea of swapping out the original drivetrain for an electric version. It does, however, seem like the ideal solution for vehicles that tend to sit in storage for extended times. Instead of worrying about fluids that go bad or seals that will leak, an electric classic just needs to remain charged.
Programs like MINI Recharged may also encourage new enthusiasts to buy into the collector car hobby. For that reason alone, I give this my stamp of approval!