New 2023 Mini Electric hatch spotted winter testing
15 February 2022 - Autocar
UK-built Fiat 500 rival is set to arrive with ICE and EV powertrains
A prototype of the new Mini Electric has been spotted undergoing winter tests in northern Europe ahead of an expected 2023 launch.
The car was photographed in the snow sporting a yellow disguise livery, black wheel rims and an ‘electric test vehicle’ label on both sides and the rear.
Despite the camouflage, the Mini's squat shape is clear to see, and the prototype appeared with a covered front end. The car’s revamped lights, a defining feature of the Fiat 500 rival, continue to hint at an extensive visual refresh for the model.
The highly anticipated, all-electric model will be built in China on a new, dedicated platform as part of a joint venture with Great Wall Motors. It will be launched alongside an Oxford-built petrol variant.
The model was officially previewed by Mini in November last year, wearing a black and white livery. The car is expected to spearhead a reworking of the Mini line-up as the brand overhauls its production processes before making the switch to all-electric by the early 2030s.
Mini says cars with “highly efficient petrol and diesel engines” will continue to serve “groups and regions” that aren’t ready to make the shift to pure-EV motoring.
The new three-door hatch is also likely to be joined by a five-door variant, although this hasn’t yet been confirmed. Mini’s 2023 three-door will pioneer an all-new interior design, which uses new technology to expand its personalisation options.
Details are unconfirmed, but Mini has said the instrument panel “will have surfaces acting as canvases that can be tailored by the customer to suit their requirements”, essentially allowing the cabin to be redesigned at will.
The three-door hatch will arrive alongside a pair of all-new small cars developed in China. One of these is expected to be the ultra-compact Minor supermini and the other a compact crossover positioned beneath the upsized Countryman.
The two new additions will be built in eastern China by Great Wall Motors as part of the joint venture. They will help Mini to achieve its goal of pure-EVs accounting for 50% of global sales by 2027, although they will also be offered with combustion engines. Mini will launch its final combustion car in 2025.
Elsewhere, the brand has provided another clue that its radical, sustainability-focused Urbanaut concept will reach production in some form. It said it’s developing “a new vehicle concept for the premium compact segment” that will major on space, comfort and flexibility in much the same way as that futuristic MPV.
An all-electric future is planned for Mini’s John Cooper Works performance line, too. The firm says it’s “intensively” developing hot EV models. As reported earlier this year by Autocar, the first model in this line will be a hardcore, performance-focused version of the current Mini Electric, with styling influence from the radical Pacesetter Formula E pace car and chassis revisions showcasing how JCW will adapt its core dynamic traits for EVs.