BMW Reported Testing Hybrid Mini Cooper

Car & Driver reports the Mini Cooper Hybrid will appear IC engine powering front axle with electric drive motor propelling rear.

Published: 30-Mar-2011

Due in about three years, the next-generation Mini Cooper will offer a four-wheel-drive version. There’s a catch, though: The rear wheels will have no connection to the engine. The car will be a hybrid, and the rear wheels will exclusively be turned by an electric motor.

As BMW switches the next-generation 1-series to front-wheel drive, and expands the Mini portfolio with several new models, the Bavarians are looking at options for hybridizing its upcoming front-wheel drivers. To expedite the process, BMW recently announced a partnership with PSA Peugeot Citroën to develop hybrid tech for front-drive applications. Although BMW presently offers hybrid versions of its X6 and 7-series, each uses a rear-wheel-drive-oriented system co-developed with other companies—and neither is especially frugal. PSA, on the other hand, is launching the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid 4 this year, a compact MPV on a front-wheel-drive platform with a rear-mounted electric motor powering the rear wheels. BMW seems to see its smaller cars heading in this direction.

In this test mule, we can see that the electric motor is connected to the rear axle. The extra power and enhanced launchability should give it a decisive advantage over front-drive Minis, and while the motor and battery pack will add unwelcome weight, at least they’ll be mounted low in the chassis. That said, the production cars won’t be quite as low to the ground as the mule seen here. The hybrid module will likely be offered in a number of Mini derivatives; from the “regular” Mini Cooper up to the Countryman.

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