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Small electric car based on Genesis Mint concept to rival MINI Electric

Genesis looks set to use its Mint concept as inspiration for a Polo-sized premium supermini, despite the wider industry turning its back on small cars

Genesis is looking to expand its electric car lineup with a MINI Electric and Fiat 500e-rivalling small car, inspired by the Genesis Mint concept first shown at the 2019 New York Motor Show.

Brand bosses say there is strong demand for a supermini-sized EV – particularly from UK and European customers – despite mainstream manufacturers turning their backs on small cars in favour of larger, higher-profit models. Ford will cease production of the popular Fiesta this year, for example, while others focus their attention on compact crossovers and SUVs.

Head of Genesis product planning, Mark Choi, said: “We are looking at expanding our models. One of the key requests we get – especially from Europe – is a smaller-segment model such as the Mint.

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“At the moment we are trying to [finalise] the entire lineup”, Choi said. “With the growth in our plant and the capacity, and the cost of making these EVs; the financial side is a key issue. Is now the right time, or will we wait until the material cost is somewhat more balanced?

“We are looking into a smaller model for the European market,” he confirmed. “But the time is to be determined”.

What is the Genesis Mint concept? 

Hyundai’s luxury brand first unveiled the Mint concept at the New York Motor Show in 2019. A ‘luxury car for the city’, it was created in collaboration with the firm’s European, US and Korean design studios. 

At the time, Genesis claimed the Mint was ‘highly manoeuvrable and exhilarating to drive’, though it has since fallen silent on progress of the project. Genesis as a brand arrived in the UK in 2021, quickly launching five distinct models – including three EVs.

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While the Mint concept was said to feature 350kW fast charging, it isn’t clear at this stage whether the new small Genesis EV would utilise the 800-volt technology from the GV60, GV70 and G80, or whether it might borrow the more affordable 400-volt architecture from the latest Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona.

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In an interview in early 2023, chief brand officer Graeme Russell said the Genesis design language would evolve from the middle of this decade, shying away from the traditional combustion-engined styling and introducing new bodyshapes – possibly including the aforementioned supermini, as well as sports cars based around the more recent Genesis X concepts.

“It wouldn’t be particularly original for us if we were doing minor changes or if we perhaps were carrying over bodystyles,” Russell said. “I think there is a confidence from design that we can be progressive and audacious. We have a clear strategy – you maintain momentum by maintaining desirability.”

Genesis Mint design and technology

Styling-wise, the Mint looked quite unlike anything in the company’s then-current Korean domestic market product range, with a low, squat stance, long wheelbase and wide track.

Being an electric car, there was no front grille. The headlights mimicked the winged Genesis badge, reflected in the bumper’s lower creases and air inlets designed to help cool the batteries. There were plenty of intricate details along the lower edges and sills, while at the rear there was a pronounced deck and light bar stretching left to right. 

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The innovative four-door body featured a pair of conventional doors at the front, with a set of rear-hinged scissor-style openings at the rear. Despite this, the Mint was a strict two-seater, with a completely flat floor and a bench that extended the entire width of the cabin.

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Genesis executive vice president of design Luc Donckerwolke, said at the time: “The Mint Concept is a new urban icon that marries classic proportions with forward-looking, minimalist design.

“The Mint Concept finds purpose and meaning in the city, just as so many people call the world’s most densely-populated metropolises home.”

The exterior detailing was mirrored inside, with sharp lines and plenty of chrome trim. The dashboard was suitably minimalist, with no central screen; all the critical information presented within a single monitor fitted within the steering wheel – flanked by six smaller displays offering access to things like mobile connectivity, navigation instructions and drive modes. 

Other details included a full-length glass roof, and a luggage rack behind the front seats. Bizarrely, the supermini appeared to have three pedals, despite the fact the Mint Concept is fully electric and powered by a single-speed transmission. 

As discussed, while Genesis management is putting serious thought into luxury small cars, a timeframe for the production-ready Mint is still to be determined. Should it see the light of day, it would look to steal sales from the next-generation MINI Cooper, which its maker claims will be capable of up to 250 miles on a charge. Prices could feasibly top £35,000 or more.

Now read our review of the Genesis GV60...

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Deputy editor

Richard has been part of the team for over a decade. During this time he has covered a huge amount of news and reviews for Auto Express, as well as being the face of Carbuyer and DrivingElectric on Youtube. In his current role as deputy editor, he is now responsible for keeping our content flowing and managing our team of talented writers.

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