Here’s what the price of the electric Mini Cooper means for the future of electric vehicles

BMW (OTC: BAMXF) recently announced pricing for the first mainstream all-electric vehicle in its Mini brand of premium compact cars. The 2020 Mini Cooper SE will arrive in U.S. dealerships in March 2020, with an MSRP of $29,900 (plus $850 destination charge). This is the price before any tax credit takes effect. According to Mini, the price of the electric sedan could drop to $17,900 with federal, state and local incentives if you live in an area that particularly encourages electric vehicles.

The Mini Cooper SE looks, well, like a Mini Cooper, and the untrained eye might not even notice it’s electric. It has a few design cues that give away its electric powertrain, like a distinct SE-specific asymmetrical wheel design, a blocked grille and, of course, special badging that says it’s electric. The fact that BMW didn’t take too many risks with the design is a good thing since the look of the Mini Cooper is distinct and recognizable, so when you see one on the road you can’t mistake which brand He comes from. The Mini Cooper SE will maintain Mini’s reputation for driving pleasure, with its electric motor delivering 181 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque with a 0-60 mph time of 6.9 seconds. Mini’s range estimate for the Cooper SE is 146-168 miles (there is no official range from the EPA at the time of this writing) and its battery can reach a charge at 100% AC in just four hours.

image source: BMW.

Compare the competition

So how does the price of the Mini Cooper SE compare to the price of some of its competitors? Like the regular petrol-powered Mini Cooper, the new electric version doesn’t have many direct competitors because it’s such a unique car. What we can compare it to is Nissan Leaf, the oldest name in the BEV (battery electric vehicle) market. The Leaf is a larger sedan with fewer premium features at the base level, and has a range of 150 miles and a starting MSRP of $29,990 for the standard model; $36,550 for the longer range Leaf Plus (226 miles). The Chevy Bolt EV is similar in size, range (238 miles) and features to the Leaf Plus, and is similarly priced, starting at $36,620. You’re hereThe Model 3 is a premium electric compact sedan that starts at $35,000, with range starting at 250 miles in the base model and going up to 322 miles in the long-range model. The Model 3 and the Mini Cooper SE are similar in standard features (navigation, heated front seats, etc.) but compete in different classes since the Mini is a subcompact sedan and a bit smaller than the Tesla.

You’ve probably noticed the trend: the 2020 Mini Cooper SE is priced lower than many of the most popular mainstream electric cars. Not only that, but it’s not priced significantly higher than a standard 2-door Mini Cooper Hardtop, which starts at $23,400 (and obviously isn’t eligible for the same tax credits as the EV since it is not electric). The Mini Cooper SE’s competitive price plus any additional tax incentives give it a good chance of getting the attention it needs to succeed, assuming it’s marketed well.

Cheaper EVs?

But what does this tell us about what we can expect for future EV prices? The Nissan Leaf has always been the high-volume, high-value choice in electric cars, but could Mini change that? Since Mini is still a bit of a boutique brand, it probably won’t see production or sales numbers as high as the Leaf and Bolt, but it might get more people paying attention to the brand. Mini and could influence competitors to make more small electric vehicles to compete with it if it is successful.

Many automakers are talking a lot about plans to introduce more all-electric vehicles, and new ones always seem to be around the corner. Whether these cars hit the market is another story. For example, GM announced in late 2017 that it would launch 20 new electric cars by 2023. That was two years ago, and we haven’t seen any of those 20 cars yet – not even a concept car – at least not at the United States. it’s just one of the most optimistic announcements we’ve heard from an automaker about a slew of new electric cars in a short period of time that’s been slow to materialize.

But Mini has one on loan, and it will be on sale at a reasonable price. When the likes of GM, Fordand volkswagen eventually bring their promised EVs to market (like Ford’s “Mustang-inspired” electric SUV, unveiled this week and arriving late next year), it’s possible the low-cost premium electric compact from Mini could spawn similar rivals in the form of smaller electric sedans in the sub-$30,000 price range. Who knows, we might even see a Tesla slotted under the Model 3 as a new affordable entry-level model. It’s exactly the kind of healthy competition that industry watchers and investors like to see, and the Mini gives us hope for the near future of the electric car scene.

A new stage

What investors should notice about this price announcement is that we could be entering a new phase of mass electric car adoption. Perhaps it’s time to start paying more attention to automakers that have committed to investing in electrifying their lineups and determining which ones are actually succeeding in doing so. Which automakers will prosper as the auto industry becomes electrified remains to be seen, but it’s something that deserves the attention of anyone investing financially in the auto industry.

This article represents the opinion of the author, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a high-end advice service Motley Fool. We are heterogeneous! Challenging an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and wealthier.

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