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With sensible electric capability, affable character and accessible positioning, the MINI Electric steads itself well as it chases the electric future.

03 Feb 2020

Electrification has been the buzz word in the industry for a few years now. Just about every car company has embraced electrification, and are steadily rolling out models with some level of electrification, whether its hybrids or full electrics.

Put simply, it's just a sensible and necessary business move. Global warming is a real problem, and legislative, economic, political and social pressures are all forcing companies to create less ecologically harmful products.

New legislative regulations mean that manufacturers are increasingly focused on electrification
There is, however, the flip side of this electric movement - the consumers. See, car companies can make all the electric cars they want (and fulfil their necessary emissions reduction targets), but consumers still need to want to buy these cars.

This is where things start to become a little more complicated. On one end of the scale, you have the high-luxury, high-performance electric models like the Porsche Taycan and the Jaguar I-PACE.

These are the so-called 'halo' cars - they have the necessary green credentials, and the unique consumer appeal, but are certainly not what you'd call mass market models.

On the other end, you have accessible and reasonably affordable models like the Hyundai Ioniq and the Nissan Leaf. On just the basic daily usage functionality, they are capable electric cars not miles off from the high-luxury models, but they don't have the same level of desirability, of course.

The city is where the MINI Electric is most in its element
What, then, does the modern electric car consumer want? The profile of the modern electric car consumer, especially moving forward, is increasingly going to be that of the climate-conscious millennial. Such drivers want something green and practical, yet still accessible and desirable.

So far, the only person that appears to have the 'right' answer is Elon Musk, hence the immense excitement over Teslas (especially here in the U.S.A). However, this isn't quite the case in Singapore, where the prohibitively high cost of a Tesla makes it fall in line much more with the high-luxury models.

This all brings us to the brand new MINI Electric - could this be the car that manages to bridge that gap? 

A new MINI, a same MINI

The high-quality and premium cabin elevates the ownership experience
There's no getting around the fact that MINI is a niche brand with a small market. And no matter how many more not-so-mini MINIs they produce (aka the Clubman and the Countryman), there's no realistic way for the brand to exponentially increase its market share.

Or maybe, there is.  

This MINI Electric does something quite interesting. It's got the cool, youthful appeal of a MINI. It looks like how a MINI should. It drives just as you'd expect a MINI to drive. So, if you want a MINI (and everything that comes associated with it), this MINI Electric certainly fits the bill.

But, it's also an electric car! Yes, the packaging constraints on the car means that the overall power output and range are rather modest, and thus it isn't able to boast about maximum power or generous range like some other cars can.

No one will ever call a MINI practical, but it'll still accomodate two luggages - enough for a short getaway! 
However, that doesn't negate the car's electric capabilities one bit. After all, the target buyer for this car (and some may argue all electric cars) is the urbanite, the city dweller that commutes short distances daily from home to work and back. For such people, 200km of range on a single charge is more than enough for daily use.

Yes, limited public infrastructure (Singapore is guilty of this) does mean that you likely still need to have the ability to charge your car at home to make such electromobility viable. But, cities around the world are undeniably taking steps to make electric car use much more practical and viable for more people. 

The middle ground

So, is this MINI Electric the answer to all our electric car problems? Of course not. And no one is claiming it to be. What it is, however, is a very interesting and compelling approach to electromobility.

The MINI Electric's middle ground approach makes it interestingly and sensibly positioned to succeed
Building a car, especially an electric one, is all about compromises. More range equals more batteries equals more weight, meaning you need more power to move the car. More high-tech equipment also increases the cost of the car, which makes it less accessible to buyers.

The MINI Electric finds an interesting and arguably very sensible compromise. It's got legitimate electric credentials, drives well, and looks every bit the MINI we know and love. It also has that cool factor - it looks funky and interesting, and will no doubt be a great lifestyle accessory to the hip millennial. And, globally priced just under the Cooper S 3-door, it's also positioned to be a practical and accessible choice for buyers in the market for a compact hatchback.

With this middle ground approach, the MINI Electric has positioned itself quite smartly to succeed as far as making electromobility accessible, practical and desirable. We'll see if more buyers also feel the same way.
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