In case the new electric Mini Cooper SE isn't small enough for some buyers, Mini plans to build an even smaller electric car in China, based on its 2011 Rocketman concept.
British auto magazine Autocar learned that the company plans to team up with Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors to build an electric city car smaller than the Cooper SE.
The electric Rocketman concept could share a platform with the Great Wall Ora R1, which is under 11.5 feet long, and less than 5.5 feet wide.
A senior official with Mini's German parent, BMW, revealed to Autocar that the new Rocketman would be built by Spotlight Automotive, a new joint venture between the two automakers in China, though he said the decision has not been finalized.
2020 Mini Cooper SE Hardtop
BMW is mounting a push to develop 13 new electric cars, and 25 plug-in models by 2023, starting with the Mini Cooper SE, announced Tuesday. That news reflects an accelerated plan after the company originally announced that it would build 25 plug-in models by 2025, with 12 of them being all-electric. The Rocketman could be that 13th electric car in the accelerated plan.
"We’re advancing plans for a model along the lines of the Rocketman," the unnamed official told Autocar. "It’s a car we have been looking at for a long time, but to build it profitably at the price point we think customers are prepared to pay, you need a joint venture partner to share costs. Great Wall Motors has provided that opportunity with a shared electric car platform that will be used by Mini,”
The tiny Ora R1 uses a 47-horsepower electric motor driving the front wheels. Buyers can choose between two battery sizes, a 30.7-kilowatt-hour battery rated at 310 kilometers (192 miles) of range in China, or a 33.4-kwh unit rated at 351 km (218 miles.)
MINI Superleggera Vision concept
The gas-powered Rocketman concept was met with enthusiasm when it was shown at the Geneva auto show in 2011, but it's likely the car will not be designed for the U.S. market, and unclear when it may be built in China. It's also unclear whether there are any more electric Minis in the works. The brand made perhaps its biggest splash with the electric Superleggera roadster concept in 2016, but it has made no announcements about its production.