Order books are officially open for the 2020 Mini Cooper SE, the first mass-produced Mini electric car. While the Cooper SE won’t hit U.S. showrooms until March 2020, Mini is now accepting orders on its website. The automaker already claims to have over 15,000 “hand raisers” looking to place orders.
The Mini website directs customers to put down a $500 refundable deposit with a specific dealership. This gives customers priority when cars start shipping, but otherwise the purchase process is the same as an ordinary car. The Cooper SE has a base price of $30,750, which puts it roughly in the middle of the Mini lineup. Mini also qualifies for the full $7,500 federal electric car tax credit, as well as various state and local incentives.
The base price undercuts many other electric cars, but the Cooper SE also has substantially less range than its rivals. At an estimated 110 miles, the Mini has one of the shortest ranges of any electric car sold in the U.S. Even the most basic Nissan Leaf (which comes close to the Mini in price) offers 150 miles of range. For a few grand more, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Hyundai Kona Electric, and Kia Niro EV all offer more than 200 miles of range.
Mini has been quick to note that the Cooper SE wasn’t designed to be a long-distance cruiser, and claims the disappointing range figure won’t be as much of hindrance as customers might think. The automaker staged road trips between Munich and Frankfurt, and between San Francisco and Los Angeles, to prove that point. Both trips required stops to charge. A full recharge of the car’s 32.6-kilowatt-hour battery pack takes four hours from a 240-volt Level 2 AC source, according to Mini. The Cooper SE is also equipped for DC fast charging, allowing for an 80-percent recharge in 35 minutes, Mini claims.
The Cooper SE doesn’t offer much in the way of performance, either. Mini says the Cooper SE will go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, with a top speed of 93 mph. That should translate to adequate performance in the real world, but won’t offer much excitement. If you want a fast Mini, get the new John Cooper Works GP.
This isn’t the first Mini electric car. The automaker previously built a small batch of Mini E models, but they weren’t available through dealerships. They were given to handpicked customers to test out, in order to solicit feedback that was used in the development of Mini parent BMW’s i3. The Cooper SE will be Mini’s first mass-market electric car, however, and will soon be joined by more BMW electric models.
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