Before the BMW i3, there was the MINI E.
Along with the BMW ActiveE—based on the 1 Series coupe—this electric version of the second-generation BMW MINI was built to provide real-world testing data that helped form the foundation for i3 electric-car development.
The MINI E was leased to customers as part of a pilot program, but was never widely available.
DON'T MISS: First Drive: Mini E Electric Vehicle Is Far From Ready For Primetime (June 2009)
Now though, MINI may be considering a more ambitious electric-car project.
An updated version of the MINI Rocketman concept from 2011 could finally make it into production with an all-electric powertrain, reports Autocar.
In fact, the Rocketman has a better chance of reaching production with an electric powertrain than it would with a gasoline one, MINI product boss Ralph Mahler told the British magazine.
The Rocketman was envisioned as a "mini MINI," slotting below the MINI Cooper hatchback in the lineup.
The steadily increasing size of other MINI models would certainly seem to make room for a new model that is actually, err, mini.
But interior space would also be at a premium in such a model.
That's where the electric powertrain comes in.
Mahler said MINI believes electric-powertrain components will be much easier to package in a smaller space.
If it gets the green light, the production Rocketman could leverage expertise from parent BMW's "i" division.
That would bring things full circle from the original MINI E's contribution to the development of the i3.
All of the latest-generation MINI models use the UKL platform shared with the front-wheel drive BMW 2 Series Active Tourer sold in Europe.
MORE: A MINI Two-Seater Sports Car? Superleggera Vision Teases Us (May 2014)
That model is also expected to donate a plug-in hybrid powertrain to the upcoming second-generation MINI Countryman, which will switch over to the UKL platform.
In addition to the Rocketman, another recent MINI concept may soon make it to production.
MINI Superleggera Vision conceptEnlarge Photo
The MINI Superleggera Vision is a two-seat sports car that debuted at the 2014 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, and instantly won praise for its sleek styling.
Since then, there have been rumors MINI would put the car into production with an electric powertrain.
MINI product boss Mahler said the brand is still investigating ways to put the Superleggera Vision into production, but noted that the business case for such a car isn't very strong.
The market for two-seat roadsters is small, after all, and the MINI lineup is already fairly crowded at the moment.