BMW studying possibility of launching electric cars under Mini brand in India

This comes at a time when a number of automakers are considering bringing electric vehicles (EVs) they sell in global markets to India, while Indian automakers are getting ready with their own range of EVs. BMW’s British brand showcased in July it...

Mumbai: As air pollution aggravates Indian cities and the country shifts its gaze towards cleaner mobility, BMW Group, which was the first luxury carmaker to sell an all-electric car here with its i3, is now studying the possibility of bringing in electric cars under its Mini brand to the country.

This comes at a time when a number of automakers are considering bringing electric vehicles (EVs) they sell in global markets to India, while Indian automakers are getting ready with their own range of EVs.

“If the market is ready to welcome electric mobility, we will be there. We have a plant in Chennai, this helps us to have, let's say, a more approachable price tag or a different category of customer,” Francois Roca, head of Mini in Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa regions, told ET. The company is studying the feasibility of its electric vehicles in India, he said.


“But it's very much linked to the ability of India to build infrastructure,” he cautioned. The country has a long way to go in establishing the charging infrastructure for mass-adoption of EVs, multiple automakers have said.

BMW’s British brand showcased in July its first EV, the Mini Cooper SE for the global market with a starting price of $29,900 (Rs 21.5 lakh, approx.).

Meanwhile, in vehicles with combustion engines, where policy and public opinion are veering against diesel vehicles, Mini plans a significant shift in its sales by allocating 90 per cent of its production for India to petrol-powered vehicles as against 70 per cent in the past.
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The Indian automobile market is struggling with falling demand amidst steep price increases due to rapidly changing regulations. Passenger vehicle sales have declined 21 per cent this fiscal till the end of October. However, Mini has been able to keeps its sales up, albeit on a much smaller base.

The company sold 700 units in India in 2018, a 40 per cent jump over the preceding year. The country is the second largest market for Mini under Roca’s domain after Japan, he said.

Presently, Mini has 10 outlets in the country. To further boost sales, the maker of small, premium cars is taking to markets where it doesn’t have a store with mobile stores, an idea that other carmakers too have tried with varying degrees of success. In the current year, the company visited 30 cities with its stores on wheels, Roca said. However, he declined to quantify the number of sales made under this initiative.

In the first quarter of 2020, Mini will launch the new Clubman in India, bringing its portfolio in the country at par with other global markets. “Basically, you can buy in India, more or less everything that you can buy in London, Singapore or Tokyo,” says Roca.
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