With the Mini brand slated to go EV-only by the end of the decade, we knew it wouldn’t be long before we’d see concepts previewing the brand’s next batch of electric models that will follow up on the Mini Cooper SE Electric. And the automaker obliged this week with the reveal of the Aceman concept, previewing a production vehicle we should see in as little as two years, slated to arrive in 2024.
The Mini Aceman concept is a mix of a familiar profile and proportions with whimsical, rhomboid shapes, following up on the wonderful Mini Urbanaut concept of 2020 that will also see a production version.
Landing close to the Mini Countryman in length, but staying almost 10 inches shorter than the Clubman, the Aceman is a glimpse of electric Minis that we’ll see later this decade as the brand says goodbye to the current crop of models, most of which arrived in the first half of the 2010s.
The Aceman trades the current Mini roster’s oval elements for more angular shapes, wearing a hexagonal grille traced by LED contour lighting. The softer wheelarches of current Minis have been replaced by sharper angles and flared, boxier surfaces.
But there are still plenty of familiar elements, including the Union Jack taillights and a greenhouse in a contrasting black color. Propeller blade 20-inch six-spoke wheels give the concept a feeling of agility and energy, while the green roof adds yet another contrast to the palette.
“The design language of the Mini Concept Aceman heralds the beginning of a new design era for Mini,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design. “We are returning to these [classic Mini design features] now, but at the same time consistently combining them with innovative technology.”
While the exterior profile is familiar enough, the interior is another world altogether, mixing minimalist surfaces with plenty of color. The seats feature abstract shapes, while the steering wheel is trimmed in laminated green velvet velour.
Toggle switches sit beneath a round OLED screen, operating the gears, handbrake, driving modes, and audio volume. Just about everything else is controlled via the screen, powered by the latest generation of the Mini Operating System that is now based on an Android Open Source Project (AOSP) software stack.
“In the interior of the Mini Concept Aceman, we have concentrated on a simplistic appearance in combination with premium materials and welcoming colors. Digitization enables us to make do with few operating elements and at the same time to maximize the experience in a way that is characteristic of Mini,” said Oliver Heilmer, head of Mini Design. “The entire design is all about offering occupants a holistic experience in the interior space.”
Just about the only details Mini isn’t sharing for now are the specs of the electric drivetrain. A production version will certainly offer more than the 110 miles of range offered by the current Cooper SE, but whether it will be able to crack 300 miles is an open question. It will be a small car, after all, with limitations for battery packaging.
Mini still has not moved past the low-range EV phase, with the current Cooper SE Electric based on BMW’s UKL platform that arrived in 2013, making the current (and only) EV offering something of a placeholder. The next batch of Minis will be designed as EVs from the very start, including the production version of the Aceman.
The next generation of electric Mini models is still around the corner, with the electric Cooper due to be revealed later this year. Other new models are in the works as well, but they won’t arrive all at once, and Mini will still offer internal-combustion versions of models for a few years, due to demand in various markets.