BMW Group may make its Mini car brand an all-electric one in the U.S. The company has also confirmed it is in talks with potential partners regarding lowering costs associated with electrifying the Mini brand.
BMW board member and Mini brand boss Peter Schwarzenbauer informed Reuters of the potential electrification plans. Schwarzenbauer confirmed the brand plans to roll out an electric Mini in 2019, but expanded further by saying the whole brand could become an electric brand aimed at urban mobility.
Schwarzenbauer stopped short of detailing discussing the German company is having with other automakers regarding electrifying Mini. Reports recently surfaced that BMW Group was in talks with Chinese automaker Great Wall regarding a deal to potential build electric Mini products in China for export.
Today Mini products are only produced at its exclusive assembly plant in Oxford, England and by vendor VDL in the Netherlands.
Seeking a partner stems from what BMW calls the challenge of building small electric vehicles. Schwarzenbauer says the challenge stems from balancing the battery size and range with the small footprint of the car. There’s also a financial challenge associated with electrifying the brand.
Making Mini an all-electric brand would echo a similar move by fellow German brand Daimler, who has turned its Smart brand into an all-electric urban brand.
While Smart’s electrification effort is likely weighing on BMW’s decision, Mini’s sales in the U.S. are also weighing on them. Mini sales are off nearly 10 percent versus 2016, a problem the company says is primarily isolated to the U.S. market where consumers are flocking to crossovers and SUVs.