It’s MINI’s biggest ever secret – and autoexpress.co.uk has all the details.
We’ve uncovered a bold plan by the British car maker to develop a new family of city cars, including a zero emission flagship powered by an advanced electric engine.
Though exact details remain scarce, it’s believed that the ultra efficient model line up will also offer drivers fuel sipping petrol engines as MINI owner BMW seeks to build an army of green machines aimed at beating tough legislation on CO2 and other gas emissions due in 2012.
Set to hit the road as early as 2011, it’s been confirmed to Auto Express that the top-secret machine is being developed alongside two new models from a joint venture between Fiat and BMW that’s tipped to mark the return of the famous BMW Isetta and Topolino nameplates
Aimed at a fast growing family of soon to be launched rivals – including Volkswagen’s Up! and a new family of small electric cars from French maker Reanult, MINI is promising to return to its roots with a lightweight model the promises to be every bit as innovative as the 1959 original.
It’s said to be no accident that MINI has chosen its 50th year to begin to develop such a ground breaking new model.
With its engine in back, petrol models will offer four seats and easy to access four door cabin. Individual chairs for driver and passenger will ensure safety is first rate, while the car’s wheel at each corner stance promises to ensure the car feels secure and stable on the road.
Plenty of effort is being poured in to ensuring that visibility is as good as it can possibly be with a large glass area set to ensure that the car is as easy as possible to drive on congested city roads.
Also under consideration is lightweight, tough plastic bodywork, like that fitted to the Mercedes Smart, while the car’s chassis will mix aluminium and composite materials like carbon fibre to deliver enormous strength and light weight.
Electric models could further improve the car’s interior space by locating the batteries in a thin sandwich under the car, and placing electric motors in all four wheels.
Technology to propel this version of the machine is reportedly already well advanced, and has already been publicly trialled in a prototype MINI called the E. This machine, which uses a battery and engine set up similar to that developed by American sportscar firm Tesla is set to be made available in small numbers in both the USA and Germany.
There’s no word on pricing for the newcomer, but given the advanced technology it’s expected to offer, it’s likely that flagship models will cost at least £20,000. A concept paving the way to full production is tipped to make an appearance at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.