BMW has announced that the new Mini Cooper EV, which will be the first widely available all-electric version of the car, will start at $29,900 when it goes on sale in the US in March 2020. That’s noticeably down from the $35,000 ballpark figure BMW offered when the company unveiled the car in July.
There are, of course, a few catches. While the $29,900 MSRP will surely give BMW enough room to promote the car as “under $30,000,” an $850 destination and handling fee will tip the starting price over into that range anyway. And then there’s the range. The new electric Mini will only be able to travel around 146 miles (235 kilometers) on a full charge, and that’s not even the EPA estimate, which will likely be even more conservative (and, typically, more realistic). That means the first widely available Mini EV might not offer that much more range than its sole predecessor, the decade-old Mini E, a 100-mile demo car.
The new electric Mini will be far more well-appointed than the original, though, with features like Apple CarPlay, heated front seats, keyless entry, auto rain-sensing wipers and headlights, and a driver assistance package all coming standard. It has 181 horsepower, too, so it should be as peppy as any other Mini. And since BMW’s cars are still eligible for the full federal tax credit, the price could drop to around or even below $20,000, depending on which state the buyer lives in.
That all might make the range figure a bit more palatable, but there’s no denying that BMW seems to have fallen behind the curve when it comes to electrified vehicles. Not only had it beaten most other big automakers to making an electric version of one of its flagship vehicles (albeit in a limited-run trial capacity) with the original Mini E in 2009, but the company also released the BMW i3 more than five years ago. Unfortunately, the push for electrification stagnated under CEO Harald Krueger, who resigned this past July. (In fact, the new Mini is basically just i3 tech repurposed into a new package.) Now, BMW finds itself playing catch-up to one of the greatest technological shifts the automotive industry has ever seen.