BMW has announced plans to begin field testing electric powertrains in its Mini Cooper brand vehicles. Depending on the result of the field tests, the electric version of the Mini Cooper could be an important step for electric cars.
Several hundred Mini Cooper vehicles are currently being built at the company factory in Oxford, England. The vehicles will then be shipped to Munich, Germany to receive electric powertrains.
BMW will utilize the vehicles to refine alternative-fuel technology and to assess the future potential for mass production. BMW advocates that if more manufacturers entered the electric vehicle market, costs would come down and the technology would become accessible.
In addition to BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot-Citroen, Renault, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen have already announced plans to develop and test electric vehicles.
The electric version of the Mini Cooper is likely to command a roughly $10,000 premium over the standard Mini Coopers now available. BMW reintroduced the Mini brand in 2001, however the Mini brand dates back decades, when it was owned by the British Motor Corporation and popularized in the 1960s and 1970s. Models have been available in the United States since 2002. The Cooper is now in its second generation. Furthermore, the Cooper Convertible is expected to be redesigned soon. An extended Cooper Clubman version debuted this year, and the high-performance John Cooper Works models follow for 2009.