BMW looks across the world for Mini EV partners, with hints that the whole brand could be electrified in future
BMW AG is reportedly in talks with other car manufacturers “around the world” to try to find partners to lower the cost of making its Mini cars electric.
A member of the German automaker’s management board, Peter Schwarzenbauer, made the comments in an interview with Reuters. “We are talking to many OEMs (manufacturers) around the world, not only in China, (about) how to electrify smaller cars,” he said, although noted that: “There’s no final conclusion on it.”
BMW currently plans to launch an all-electric Mini in 2019, but Schwarzenbauer said that all new Minis could eventually be EVs designed for urban travel. Rumours have also swirled as to whether electric Minis could be built in China following comments by Great Wall Motor suggesting it was in talks to explore the idea – although Schwarzenbauer dismissed the comments as speculation.
Currently the electric Mini is slated to be produced solely at BMW’s plant in Oxford, the current production site for the Mini 3-door Hatch.
Schwarzenbauer also told Reuters that BMW may also debut a self-driving car by 2021, at a price below US$100,000.
BMW Blog writes that one potential electrification partner could be Toyota, given that the two are currently invested in a joint venture which will deliver the BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra next year. However, given Toyota’s reticence on battery-only vehicles, and the fact that the Z4/Supra will be performance ICE vehicle, the chances that the venture will move into electrification do not seem high.
“Battery-powered cars with a long range are very expensive and it takes a long time to charge them. Such cars do not fit in our programme,” Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada recently told German newspaper Der Spiegel.
“At the same time,” the Blog continued “It is believed that BMW is looking to gain some valuable help from Toyota in the field of fuel-cell vehicles, where the Japanese expertise can come in handy.”
The fact that BMW is still looking for Mini partners is perhaps evident in the lack of specifications for the Mini Electric Concept. A press release ahead of the Los Angeles Motor show hypes the appeal of the EV, but is short on details of range, battery capacity and motor size.