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Electric Mini conquers range anxiety with drive from Munich to Frankfurt

Most manufacturers bring new cars to an auto show on the back of a truck, but Mini wanted to make a point about range anxiety with its first all-electric model. So it drove one from Munich to the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. The 2020 Mini Cooper SE made the 400-kilometer (248-mile) trip with just one stop to charge.

Munich was chosen as the starting point because it’s the hometown of Mini parent BMW. It was also a reasonable distance from Frankfurt. Mini expects the Cooper SE to achieve a range of 235 kilometers to 270 kilometers (146 miles to 167 miles) on the European testing cycle. The car is equipped for DC fast charging, so enough range could be recovered from one short charging stop to complete the trip. Note that the car will likely get lower range ratings on the tougher United States testing cycle.

Elena Eder, project manager for the Cooper SE, drove the car from Munich to Frankfurt. She stopped at a DC fast-charging station along the way and got an 80-percent charge in 35 minutes, according to Mini. The only concession Eder needed to make to preserve range was to keep under the Cooper SE’s top speed of 150 kph (93 mph), according to Mini. Outside of Germany, with its unrestricted autobahns, it’s unlikely that any Mini Cooper SE driver will need to go that fast. Upon arrival in Frankfurt, the car was driven directly onto Mini’s stand, where it will be displayed during the auto show.

The electric Mini’s run from Munich to Frankfurt shows what’s possible even with a relatively low-range electric car. Cars like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Nissan Leaf already offer more than 200 miles of range for under $40,000. As demonstrated by Mini, DC fast charging allows drivers to stretch that range and make longer trips. But the public’s unfamiliarity with electric cars means range anxiety will likely continue to restrict sales.

Speaking of sales, the 2020 Mini Cooper SE is expected to hit U.S. showrooms in 2020. The Mini will join the BMW i3 as the second all-electric model in the German automaker’s lineup. BMW plans to follow that up with an electric version of its X3 SUV, as well as a flagship electric model dubbed iNext.

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