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Mini releasing Rocketman-like EV in the early 2020s?

by Ronan Glon

The model will be developed and built in China by Great Wall.

The on-again, off-again Rocketman project is back on track at Mini. The company's entry-level model will allegedly reach production after all packing electric technology developed by one of BMW's Chinese partners.

We first saw the Rocketman as a concept (pictured) in 2011. Rumors of a production model immediately began swirling around the internet; some claimed it would be made jointly with Toyota, while others pointed to a partnership with Peugeot. Whether or not they were accurate is a moot point because the project never moved forward, and Mini ended up not releasing a model below the Hardtop.

It looks like three is the charm. BMW will leverage its partnership with China-based Great Wall Motors to make a truly mini 21st century Mini a reality. The car is tentatively on track for a 2022 launch.

"We're advancing plans for a model along the lines of the Rocketman. It's a car we have been looking at for a long time, but to build it profitably at the price point we think customers are prepared to pay, you need a joint venture to share costs. Great Wall Motors has provided that opportunity with a shared electric car platform that will be used by Mini," a BMW official told Autocar.

The Rocketman -- a name that almost certainly won't stick around until production -- will be made in China through a joint venture between BMW and Great Wall named Spotlight Automotive. Chinese-built examples will be distributed in every market around the world. Manufacturing the model in China, rather than in England, will help offset the cost of its electric powertrain.

Autocar believes the Rocketman will arrive as a re-skinned Ora R1, an electric car that's cheaper than any new car sold in the United States. It looks like a cross between a Honda E and a Smart ForFour, but what matters to us is what's under the sheet metal. Power comes from a motor that draws power from a 30.7-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack to zap the front wheels with 47 horsepower and 92 pound-feet of torque. Buyers can select a bigger, 33-kilowatt-hour pack at an extra cost.

None of this is official; Mini is focusing on releasing the Cooper SE, its first production electric car, and it hasn't announced plans to release a second battery-powered model. If the report is accurate, we expect to see an updated Rocketman concept in the coming years.

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