BMW electrifies the classic MINI

BMW has unveiled a one-off, all-electric version of the classic MINI car, to promote its switch to zero-emissions production vehicles next year.

Based on a late version of the original MINI Cooper, the Classic MINI Electric looks exactly the same as the influential car, which was first produced by the UK-based British Motor Corporation in 1959 and went on to become an icon of the 1960s.

Externally it boasts all the original features of the classic two-door car, from its circular headlights to its striped paintwork.

But instead of being powered by a four-cylinder engine like the original model, the Classic MINI Electric boasts a battery-powered electric engine.

The vehicle is being unveiled at the New York International Auto Show this week, a year ahead of the launch of the company's first fully electric production cars.

BMW describes it as a unique model that aims to express the car brand's "appetite for purely electric driving".

"The Classic MINI Electric combines the historic look of the world's favourite small car with groundbreaking drive technology for tomorrow's urban mobility," said the brand.

"With this unique vehicle, MINI sends out a clear signal demonstrating its commitment to retaining the brand’s unmistakable character whilst embracing innovative zero local emission technology," it continued.

BMW unveiled its MINI Electric Concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in August 2017.

The fully electric production vehicle is currently being developed, and is set to hit the roads in 2019. This vehicle will be based on a standard MINI 3 Door.

In contrast, the Classic MINI Electric is designed as a one-off model.

"The Classic MINI Electric is the result of an imaginary journey through time, where the story of classic model is extended by a consecutive chapter," said the firm.

"The original, from the second half of the 20th century, becomes a sympathetic ambassador for environmental awareness and a form of sustainable mobility whose future has just begun."

The original MINI was designed for BMC by Alec Issigonis, and was in production from 1959 to 2000. BMC, which later became the Rover Group, was eventually bought by BMW in 1994, along with the rights to the MINI name.

BMW's new versions of the MINI are much larger in size, but feature many of the same design details as the original. Current models include the Clubman, the Countryman and the Convertible. There is also a concept for a car that changes colour.

True to MINI's original character, the Classic MINI Electric is coloured with red paint, and complemented by a white roof and bonnet stripes. The yellow MINI Electric logo is featured on the wheel hubs and at the front and back of the car.

"The electric classic remains true to the brand, both in terms of its visual appearance and driving characteristics. The spontaneous power of its electric motor provides a new dimension to the unmistakable go-kart feeling that helped propel the British small car in its original form to worldwide popularity," said MINI.

BMW's electrification of the classic MINI follows in the footsteps of luxury British motor company Jaguar, which unveiled a zero-emissions version of its iconic E-type model in September 2017.