For this Paris motor show, it seems like all of the carmakers are going electric. Now MINI, after launching its biggest-ever vehicle, the Countryman, is showing its smallest — an electric scooter.
MINI revealed a trio of scooters last week at a party in London hosted by another British style icon, model Agyness Deyn. Designed for an urban audience, these scooters use a smart phone as an ignition key and the lithium-ion battery can be charged in a regular plug point using a retractable cable a bit like you’d find in your vacuum cleaner.
“The proportions are totally new. We didn’t want to do a scaled-down car, we wanted it to be shaped as a true scooter,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, the BMW group’s head of design.
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The scooters, which were dreamed up by a team of designers from MINI and BMW’s motorcycle division, feature classic MINI design cues including the signature circular central instrument cluster, iconic speedometer, chrome details and MINI-style indicator lamps.
The scooters are all set for the iPod generation with a smartphone adapter, which allows it to be used as a satnav, phone or music player. MINI clearly expects it to become a cult vehicle — it’s developing technology that will make the scooters’ headlights open when they meet on the road, a nod to the community feeling enjoyed by owners of VW camper vans, VW Beetles and Saab 900s.
There’s a two-seater with a grey and yellow colour-scheme that matches the MINI E electric prototype which is being trialled and set to go into production for 2013.
The second is a more classic model, a single-seater in British ‘racing green’ with a brown leather seat. The third was exclusive to the London reveal, a striking scooter directly inspired by those of the Mods, the style-conscious British youth scene of the 1960s.
Van Hooydonk expects the cars to win over MINI owners and appeal to a younger generation.
“The scooters would allow younger people who don’t have a driving licence to own a MINI before they can drive a car. I also see it appealing to people who thought they’d never drive on two wheels.”
MINI will see what kind of feedback it gets at Paris Motor Show this week, before they decide whether to create production versions of these scooters.
“This is just the beginning of the project,” reveals van Hooydonk.
“It’s more important that people love it than for it to communicate the MINI brand. If they like what they see then the fact it’s electric is just a bonus.”
Meanwhile, smart will be revealing their own, very different electric scooter at the Paris Show.
“I’m looking forward to seeing smart’s proposal,” says van Hooydonk. “If anything it helps us to create a whole new market segment.”