Mini hands make light work

The plug-in elec­tric Mini is about to il­lu­mi­nate the world, writes PAULGOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige News -

AMINI with some zap hits the road in Cal­i­for­nia next year. It’s the lat­est in a se­ries of plug-in elec­tric cars be­ing built to sat­isfy Amer­ica’s de­mands for cuts in pol­lu­tion and fuel use and, like the elec­tric Smart set for Aus­tralia in 2010, it should even­tu­ally come here.

The bat­tery-pow­ered Mini will be pre­viewed at the Los An­ge­les Mo­tor Show next month be­fore full-scale sales of up to 500 cars next year.

De­tails of the plan were re­vealed ex­clu­sively to cars­Guide by the world­wide head of the BMW Group, which in­cludes Mini, at the Paris Mo­tor Show.

‘‘We will show the elec­tric Mini at the LA show. We’re do­ing that first,’’ Ian Robert­son says. ‘‘It’s a plug-in. It looks like a Mini, drives like a Mini, but doesn’t sound like a Mini.

‘‘Ac­tu­ally, that’s one of the things we have to work on. Whether it needs to have some sort of noise.’’

Robert­son de­clines to go into de­tails on price or range, and says BMW Group is us­ing the Mini to do re­search on elec­tric motoring.

‘‘We want to see how prac­ti­cal it is,’’ he says. ‘‘We need to see if you have a charger at home, or at work, or pub­lic charg­ing. Right through to the is­sues of liv­ing with it.’’

The elec­tric plan comes as Mini moves quickly on its Cross­over Con­cept from the Paris show. It is clear the all-wheel-drive wagon will make it to pro­duc­tion, though there is no time­frame or con­fir­ma­tion of the me­chan­i­cal de­tails.

But Robert­son says the high­er­rid­ing wagon will give the Mini brand more reach.

‘‘Mini is on the right track,’’ he says. ‘‘The Cross­over Con­cept al­lows more util­i­sa­tion. It’s the first four­door Mini ever. That’s a big step. It’s not go­ing to be called the name on the car. It will be unique.’’

Mini im­prove­ments: a Mini Cross­over con­cept car at the Paris Mo­tor Show, the first four-door in the Mini’s his­tory.

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