Although specific details are not yet available, BMWBLOG claims the car has been given the green light according to its “extremely reliable source” and is currently in development.
Despite the lack of detail, the designation “GP” indicates a focus on performance. A base 2021 Gas Mini Cooper offers 134 horsepower, and the electric SE version offers 181 horsepower. The new, racetrack-oriented, gas-powered Mini “John Cooper Works GP” from Mini offers a massive 301 hp, more than double the base model. It also redesigned the body, suspension, and other minor performance enhancements. And all at a premium price that is more than double the cost of the base model.
A “GP” electric mini would likely involve many design and component changes in the gas version. But horsepower is a different beast, as electric cars get their power not only from a large motor, but also from a large battery to power that motor.
The Mini Cooper SE only has a usable battery capacity of 28.9 kWh in a 32.6 kWh battery. There’s not much BMW could do to get more power out of the battery without switching to an entirely different chemistry, which seems unlikely for a specific, track-focused model.
BMW could add more battery capacity, but that comes with a weight penalty that isn’t particularly good for performance. Or maybe the car won’t come out for several years when battery technology has advanced and gotten lighter, which helps mitigate that weight penalty.
Another consideration is that route miles are much rougher than road miles when it comes to a car’s energy consumption, and a 28.9 kWh pack doesn’t last long, especially with optimal power output. It’s still great for autocross or short distances with a few laps at a time, but performance will likely be limited for longer sessions as the battery drains fairly quickly.
On our first test of the Mini Cooper SE, we were delighted with the improvements made since the original Mini E prototype in 2009, although we felt that something was missing, that the car felt a little less “raw” than the version 2009 (which I had to do myself on a track at the time). Seth was also impressed, but felt the range was a limiting factor in our weeklong review.
If the GP version offers higher performance or a more aggressive ride, this is a welcome improvement over an already attractive package. The basic Mini Cooper SE model strikes a good balance between features and price that fits well into its niche.
The GP version would have to leave this price niche with all the improvements in order to compete with more expensive electric cars with a longer range. To stay competitive it would have to offer some really impressive performance improvements. Given what BMW has done to keep the Mini Cooper SE attractive despite its small battery, we’re excited to see what kind of magic they can do with a GP electric model.
One possibility, while this is probably just wishful thinking, is that BMW could add a rear engine. This would improve the performance of the gauge and 0-60 and wouldn’t cost a lot of weight since electric motors are pretty light anyway. But Mini is a front-wheel drive brand (despite the Countryman) so breaking tradition and giving the electric Mini an edge over its top-end gasoline JCW-GP would be quite a statement. While it would be a statement, we’d love to see them …
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