Remember the Mini Rocketman Concept from the 2011 Geneva Motor Show? If you don't that's OK, as it's been almost an entire decade since Mini pulled the wraps off. Despite the massive time lapse, Mini decided to revive the concept, not just for show. The company's finally going to put the Rocketman into production, as an electric vehicle.
We've heard this before, a few years ago, but nothing was set in stone. Now it seems a decision has been made.
AutoCar in Britain recently learned that the Rocketman will fulfill its premise as the company's first subcompact city car. The production model, scheduled for 2022, will reportedly be heavily reworked and built as a joint project with Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors.
"We're advancing plans for a model along the lines of the Rocketman. 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," an anonymous "senior BMW official" was quoted as saying.
The production Rocketman will retain its three-door hatchback design and is expected to serve as the manufacturer's newest entry-level model. It will be built by Great Wall Motors in Jiangsu, China, while BMW oversees the design and production with plans to sell it in all markets globally.
When the Rocketman first surfaced at Geneva, it was essentially BMW's direct response to Daimler's Smart ForFour. However, even with positive feedback from prospective customers, the project was shelved because development discussions between BMW and its initial partner, Peugeot, ended abruptly. The companies were reportedly going to share platforms and powertrains in another joint venture.
In the new agreement with the Chinese company, the production model will apparently use a small-car platform used by Great Wall Motors called the Ora R1. The Peugeot-BMW project was going to use either a three-cylinder gas or diesel engine. But the new model will gain an all-electric powertrain by Spotlight Automotive as a part of BMW's massive plan to launch up to 25 new plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles by the end of 2023. One of those models is the newly released all-electric Cooper SE.
The Ora R1 utilizes an electric motor mounted at the front, capable of producing 47 horsepower and 92 pound feet of torque, powered by a 30.7 kilowatt-hour battery with an optional and more powerful 33 kWh unit available. Both provide well over 300 kilometers, or at least 186 miles of driving distance on a full charge. There's no word as to whether the production Mini Rocketman will utilize this powertrain.