Classic Mini Electric sparks up new tech in an old shell

Published: 29 March 2018

► Classic Mini Electric
► A one-off retro EV
► Shown at New York

It had to happen eventually didn’t it? At the 2018 New York motor show, BMW has done something everyone was expecting, and plonked an electric powertrain into a Mini. Except there’s a twist: it was an original, old Mini – not a new hatch.

BMW says it’s a ‘clear signal demonstrating its commitment to retaining the brand’s original character,’ but we’ll get this out the way early: it’s not a car you’ll be able to buy. Which is a shame. Imagine a BMW-spec rival to Singer, cranking out old-look Minis with modern-spec EV gubbins…

The classic Mini Electric: specs, details

The classic Mini Electric has been finished in a sumptuous red paint with a white roof, and is actually a perfectly restored example of the British icon – aside from the motor. You’ll be glad to know there’s no blue signage or streaks to denote its lack of combustion engine, either.

Unfortunately, that’s as much information we have on the classic Mini Electric for now. It’ll be fascinating to see how BMW has arranged the electric motor and cells packaged in the old car, but so far there’s not been a huge amount of detail on the subject. Which is a shame…

We’ll be digging deeper during the New York auto show this week. Stay tuned for more detail.

What’s it like to drive the old battery-powered Mini?

Sadly, it seems we won’t get to drive it, either. BMW says the Mini Electric benefits from an ‘unmistakable go kart feeling’ thanks to its pert dimensions and electric power delivery. But then it would say that, wouldn’t it?

What’s the point of this car? To prepare us for the imminent arrival of the new-era Mini Electric. We won’t see that this year, so to plug the gap, they’ve rustled up this old-timer to keep us interested. See what they’ve done there?

Sounds a bit like Land Rover, resuscitating its defunct Defender to keep interest in its icon until the new one arrives later this decade…

Read more news from the New York motor show in our guide here

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast