MINI SE electric is coming

Discussion in 'Cooper SE' started by Domenick, Jan 23, 2018.

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  1. BMW's MINI was one of the first to be available as an EV, though only as part of a test program to learn about the technology. Now it's coming back, with the production model to be revealed in 2019.

    We just got some spy shots in of the mule in testing, which is kind of interesting, but I'm not sure what it says about the eventual project.

    Of course, the concept version has already been shown. Will be interesting to see how many of the stylistic elements on that make it to production.
    Tom Moloughney likes this.
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  3. jim

    jim Active Member

    The 1st MINI-E was converted by ACPropulsion my favorite EV company and the ones who inspired Tesla who still uses their Lithium battery pack design and AC controller and motor design. ACP made 500 of the MINI-E for BMW and they are still on the road today at the University Of Delaware in a V2G demo that has been going for over 10 years.
    I hope the new one is even better. The BMW i3 is very good so their Mini Electric should be very good. But I bet they don't have the V2G of the original.
  4. Tom Moloughney

    Tom Moloughney InsideEVs Staff Subscriber

    I had one of the original MINI-Es and loved it. I really like that BMW kept the same plug logo and even used the same color scheme on the new concept MINI-E. If it has 170+ mile range I might just get one to replace my i3s when the lease is up.
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  5. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    It's a poorly kept secret that Tesla got its start in EV tech by licensing it from AC Propulsion. :)

    If ACP is still in business, I wonder what they're up to these days?
  6. From Wiki: Before Tesla Motors developed its Roadster's proprietary powertrain, the company licensed AC Propulsion's EV Power System design and Reductive Charging patent which covers integration of the charging electronics with the inverter, thus reducing mass, complexity, and cost. Tesla then designed and built its own power electronics, motor, and other drivetrain components that incorporated this licensed technology from AC Propulsion. Given the extensive redevelopment of the vehicle, Tesla Motors no longer licenses any proprietary technology from AC Propulsion.

    AC Propulsion still exists and is helping various companies, mainly in China, develop EV tech.
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  8. Hard call for me between i3 and Mini-E. Guess I need to test drive both! :)
  9. Tom Moloughney

    Tom Moloughney InsideEVs Staff Subscriber

    Will it be a hard call if the MINI-E is $15,000 less? :D
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  10. That would certainly make the call a lot easier for me. I kind of like the i3 quirky looks, though.
  11. Tom Moloughney

    Tom Moloughney InsideEVs Staff Subscriber

    The MINI-E won't be mostly CFRP and aluminum. Plus, it's smaller. Yes, it will have a bigger battery than the current i3, (I'm guessing about 40 kWh) but the 120 Ah cells they are using are more energy dense than the current 94 Ah cells and cost about the same. So I'm thinking an MSRP of about $29,999. ~$13k less than the i3 starting price .
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  13. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    That's a good summary for an encyclopedia entry, and Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. But I think that kinda minimizes just how dependent Tesla was in its early days on ACP tech. For example, the problems Tesla had with trying to use a two-speed transmission in the Roadster. They tried twice with two different vendors, but the supplied transmissions wouldn't hold up under extended use in the very high-torque drivetrain.

    The solution was to beef up the motor (and the inverter which supplies the motor's electrical power) and eliminate the transmission in favor of a fixed-ratio gearbox. I remember reading one article which said that Tesla's engineers were reluctant to redesign the inverter to produce more power -- or to change it in any way -- since it was an AC Propulsion design. An electric motor is rather simple, but the "integrated motor controller" including the inverter which controls the motor and supplies its electrical power, is far more complex, and that was proprietary ACP tech*. But that's very "Inside Tesla". Even the seminal tell-all article about Tesla's early days, "Tesla's Wild Ride", says only:

    But behind the scenes company execs were sweating. Electric motors have the advantage of being lightning fast from a standing start. But to get to the top speed that Tesla had promised (125 mph), they needed either a more powerful drive train or a second gear that could send the car speeding beyond 100 mph. Problem was, Tesla’s engineering team didn’t yet have the experience to build a more powerful drive train...
    *The modern integrated motor controller, which allows modern EVs to use more energy-efficient AC motors (that is, energy efficient over a wide range of running speeds) rather than the DC motors (with a more restricted range of running speeds) used in older EVs, was designed by Alan Cocconi, when he was working for GM. That tech, the modern integrated motor controller, first appeared in the 1990 Impact, which became the prototype for the GM EV1. Cocconi later left GM and became co-founder of AC Propulsion. So you see, Tesla and GM can both trace the origins of their production EVs back to the same source! I don't know where the other EV makers got their design for the integrated motor controller. Perhaps they reverse engineered a GM EV1 or an AC Propulsion tZero? Or perhaps ACP licensed their EV tech to multiple auto makers, not just Tesla. Given what Domenick posted about ACP above, more likely the latter.

    Domenick is likely by now itching from all this off-topic detail in the wrong thread, so I'll stop. ;)
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
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  14. At the risk of extending this into further off-topic territory, I believe the reliance on ACP was overstated in press articles from the time. Certainly Tesla pushed back against that narrative. They never actually used the only tech they had licensed (a "reductive charging" patent) in a production vehicle.

    I mention this in a post I wrote for AutoblogGreen that discussed ACP being the Mini-E drivetrain supplier.

    There's no doubt, of course, that the ACP approach -- AC induction motor, battery comprised of 18650 cells -- was copied. Allan Cocconi has a number of patents, but not for the AC controller, per se.

    As far as I know, they didn't replace motors or controllers when they changed the transmission to a simple gear reduction, just changed software.

    Finally, I think this is some of my early photoshop work (the ACP branding on the Mini_E).

    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  15. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    I hereby absolve myself of any guilt over posting extensively about the 2008 Tesla Roadster in a thread ostensibly about the Mini Cooper Electric. :cool:

    See the official Tesla blog on designing the Roadster 1.5 powertrain: "An Engineering Update on Powertrain 1.5"

    A few citations from that blog post by JB Straubel:

    For those of you not thinking about this every day like we are :) the powertrain 1.5 is an improved motor, inverter and gearbox designed to replace our previous two-speed transmission that had many durability, efficiency and cost challenges.
    Here is a quick refresher on what the powertrain 1.5 is and is not:
    • An improved inverter (PEM) to deliver higher motor current
    • An improved motor to handle higher current and torque
    • A new single-speed gearbox
    • A new motor to gearbox coupler and an improved motor cable
    • Upgraded vehicle firmware
    • NO changes to the battery pack
    The 1.5 motor has slightly more substantial changes to deal with the higher current. We have modified the castings on both ends of the motor called “endbells.” These were modified to allow for a different interface to the new gearbox and also to improve the durability of the fastening between the motor and transmission. We also modified the motor shaft slightly with a larger and stronger output spline to handle the higher torque that the motor can generate at 850A. The bearings remain the same and the internal electromagnetic design of the motor is identical. The same number of turns and lamination geometry are used.

    One additional improvement was made to the motor terminal lugs in order to significantly reduce their resistance yielding better efficiency and much less temperature rise at very high currents. Connected to these lugs is the motor cable that attaches the PEM to the motor. We have also reduced the resistance of this motor cable by changing wire material from copper clad aluminum to pure copper. This increases the mass slightly but also improves the efficiency and reduces temperature rise.
    A Jan 2008 Autoblog article also claims that Tesla would change the Roadster's motor from air-cooled motor liquid-cooled motor, but I see no mention of that in the official Tesla blog post, and the Roadster's Wikipedia article claims the motor is air-cooled. Perhaps that was an idea Tesla was considering in Jan 2008, but later abandoned?
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018
    Tom Moloughney likes this.
  16. I stand corrected.
  17. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    I'm pretty sure I hadn't read that before, and a lot of those details seemed new to me. Looks like my claim the motor was "beef[ed] up" is an exaggeration, or at least misleading. From the details there, the motor shaft was made more mechanically robust, but it appears they didn't actually make the motor more powerful.
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