MINI Rocketman comes to life – production compact EV to be made in China with Great Wall, 2022 debut

MINI Rocketman comes to life – production compact EV to be made in China with Great Wall, 2022 debut


Remember the cute MINI Rocketman Concept from a couple of years back? According to Autocar, the actually mini-sized MINI has been green-lighted for production. In keeping with the times, the Rocketman will be electric-powered and made in China.

The entry-level three-door hatchback will be made exclusively at Spotlight Automotive – a new joint venture outfit run by BMW and its Chinese partner Great Wall Motors (GWM) in Jiangsu – for the world. The production car is set to debut in 2022, although it might not carry the concept’s Rocketman name.

“We’re advancing plans for a model along the lines of the Rocketman. It’s a car we have been looking at for a long time, but to build it profitably at the price point we think customers are prepared to pay, you need a joint venture partner to share costs. Great Wall Motors has provided that opportunity with a shared electric car platform that will be used by MINI,” a senior BMW official told the British magazine.

First shown in 2011, the MINI Rocketman Concept is very small. At 3,419 mm long, it’s not much longer than the 3.05-metre 1959 original Mini. However, it’s much wider than the old timer at 1,907 mm, including the exterior mirrors, and stands 1,398 mm tall. Like the Toyota iQ (remember that one?), it’s a 3+1-seater, with the sole “real” rear seat behind the front passenger.

Wide-opening doors with double-hinge joints that pivot outwards and integrated sills facilitate entry. The split two-part tailgate consists of one section which is attached to the roof and opens very high and a lower section which extends out 350 mm from the body in the form of a drawer.

The report points out that the Rocketman was conceived to extend the MINI range into the city car segment, but despite favourable response from prospects, development was stopped when talks between BMW and Peugeot on a possible platform and powertrain sharing deal broke down.

While the original Rocketman idea was born with internal combustion engines in mind, the one being planned today will be an electric car positioned below the just-revealed MINI Cooper SE. It’s part of BMW’s plans to roll out 25 plug-in hybrid and full electric models by the end of 2023.

Word is that the production Rocketman will share underpinnings and elements of its electric drivetrain with the Ora R1, a compact car launched by GWM’s new Ora electric sub-brand last year. The R1 is 3,495 mm long, 1,669 mm wide and 1,530 mm tall; those dimensions match the Rocketman concept’s. The China-market car packs a 30.7 kWh or optional 33 kWh lithium-ion battery, which is good for a claimed range of 310 km and 351 km, respectively.

China’s the main battle ground for EVs. In March, Geely and Daimler announced the formation of a 50:50 joint venture for the ownership, operation and development of the Smart brand. The new JV will see a new generation of electric-powered Smart cars assembled at a new purpose-built EV plant in China, with global sales set to commence in 2022.

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