This week Mini confirmed it will produce an electric premium compact vehicle that will sit alongside the next-generation Mini Countryman, positioned in a space that Mini has not addressed to date. What such a vehicle could look like was previewed earlier this year with the Mini Urbanaut concept, which showcased packaging not previously offered by the automaker.
If the concept of an electric Mini MPV still sounds antithetical to the brand, it’s worth noting that the Volkswagen ID. Buzz is just around the corner, having been greenlit years ago, while Mini has made it clear that it wants to introduce new types of crossovers in the coming years. One of them will be a successor to the Mini Countryman, promised in 2023.
“Furthermore, Mini is working on the development of a new vehicle concept for the premium compact segment,” the automaker adds. “This will meet the wishes of many customers for space and comfort, and increased variability. A host of creative solutions in this area were presented with the Mini Vision Urbanaut.”
The Urbanaut concept was shown in the metal earlier this summer, offering a lounge-style interior that can be reconfigured fairly quickly. Featuring a bed in the back, a table in the middle and a rotating driver’s seat, the Urbanaut concept certainly had something in common with the VW Bus models of decades past, wearing a glass canopy that lent the concept an airy feel.
“The vehicle provides a particularly fascinating vision with its especially sustainable interior supporting versatile uses and the selection of materials and functionality,” the automaker noted about the Urbanaut concept. “The study transfers the typical Mini principle of creative use of space to the future of urban mobility. This vehicle concept therefore meets the claim to pack maximum driving fun, available space, and individuality typical of Mini onto the smallest road footprint in the competitive environment.”
Such a model, while certainly signaling a new approach to the lineup, would not replace the Countryman as that model will continue alongside it, in electrified and gas-engine form. Mini is also planning a small crossover below the Countryman, and a new generation of the Mini three-door, which will also be offered in EV form.
It remains to be seen whether the Urbanaut-style crossover would be EV-only, or whether it would also be offered with a choice of a gas or an electrified powertrain.
Speaking of EVs, the automaker also noted that some of its upcoming models, including the electric three-door, will be produced in China for export.
“From 2023 onwards, the new models of the small-car segment developed for e-mobility will be produced in China,” the automaker noted. “Production will be located at the newly constructed automobile plant in the east of China. Mini will use the cars produced there to meet the increasing demand in China and the other global markets for local, emission-free driving fun.”
When it comes to gas-engined models from the brand, we’re now living waning days of their availability, with Mini planning to begin phasing out its gas-engined offerings in just a few short years. So the chances of an Urbanaut-style model being electric-only are actually pretty high.
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