Mini is set to become one of the first automakers to launch an all-electric convertible — but, so far the British marque’s plans exclude bringing the ragtop EV over to the U.S.
The ragtop will be based off the battery-powered Mini SE Hardtop, and called the Electric Convertible in the British automaker’s home market, and the Cooper SE Cabrio in other parts of Europe. It’s promised to offer an “open-air, go-kart experience.”
While the hardtop SE has struggled to gain much traction in the U.S. — which analysts largely blame on its limited range — it now represents about one in every five Mini sales in Europe, according to brand chief Stefanie Wurst.
Spurred on by success – in Europe, anyway
“This success has spurred us to implement the small series of the Mini Cooper SE Convertible within only a few month,” she said in a statement announcing the electric convertible. “I’m delighted that we can offer 999 MINI customers an extraordinary and exclusive open-air go-kart feeling.”
As TheDetroitBureau.com previously reported, Mini showed off the convertible in concept form last July as part of its biennial “Mini Takes the States” road tour. The basics don’t stray far from those of either that show car or the four-seat hardtop SE.
It will feature a single-motor drivetrain making 135 kilowatts, or 184 horsepower, and 199 pound-feet of torque. Power goes to the front wheels only.
The SE Cabriolet will be capable of running 124 miles between charges using the overseas WLTP test cycle, Mini said. That standard typically yields about 20% more range than the EPA standard. So, were it to come to the States, something around 100 miles would be likely.
The more aerodynamic Mini SE Hardtop is EPA rated at 114 miles per charge. Only the Mazda MX-30 EV currently offers less range in U.S. trim.
A drained battery on the SE Hardtop takes at least 35 minutes to reach 80% of its capacity, making it one of the slower EVs to charge up considering the minimal size of its pack. Expect similar performance for the SE Cabrio.
Production and pricing
Current plans are modest, Mini saying it will produce just 999 of the electric cabriolets – and then only for the European market. Like the SE Hardtop, it will roll out of the Mini plant in the Netherlands.
Prices in Britain will start at 52,500 pounds, according to the automaker, or $63,800 at current exchange rates.
At launch, at least, the Mini SE Cabrio is expected to be the only convertible battery-electric vehicle available in Europe – and the only open-top model in the U.S. is the GMC Hummer with removable roof panels.
Convertible competition coming
Tesla’s initial product was a ragtop, the Roadster. And it is currently working up a new version, though that project has been delayed several times.
The number of electric convertibles will increase over the next few years, however, as Tesla isn’t the only automaker with a cabrio under development.
Other models in the pipeline include the Jeep Recon, with a one-touch power top, the BMW i4 Cabriolet, the Rolls-Royce Spectre Convertible, the Porsche 718 Boxster Electric, and the Polestar 6, a folding hardtop convertible.