BMW unveils new concept Mini Aceman, an all-electric version of the iconic car

The new Mini Aceman concept car
Despite embracing modernity, it will retain the classic styling of the original. Photo credit: Supplied / BMW

BMW has unveiled a new concept version of its iconic Mini car the Aceman, which the German manufacturer sees as the future of the brand.

The all-electric version of the familiar small car will have a new digital interior experience as well as ditching chrome and leather in a bid to move towards more responsible materials, it said.

"The Mini Concept Aceman provides an initial glimpse of a completely new vehicle, bridging the space between the Mini Cooper and the Mini Countryman in the model family's future," Stefanie Wurst, head of the Mini brand, said.

"This concept car reflects how Mini is reinventing itself for its all-electric future and what the brand stands for: an electrified go-kart feel, an immersive digital experience and a strong focus on a minimal environmental footprint."

Despite introducing new technologies, the car will still retain much of the styling expected by Mini fans, including the minimalist interior originally designed by Alec Issigonis in 1959.

As well as recycled knitted textile surfaces and strong colour contrasts, a new OLED display will function as the central interface.

"In the interior of the MINI Concept Aceman, we have concentrated on a simplistic appearance in combination with premium materials and welcoming colours," said Oliver Heilmer, head of Mini design.

"Digitisation enables us to make do with few operating elements and at the same time to maximise the experience in a way that is characteristic of Mini."

The new Mini Aceman concept car
Photo credit: Supplied / BMW

The dashboard is a flat design element styled like a sound bar that extends across the entire width of the interior in front of the driver and front passenger seats, the company said.

The dashboard will also display the Union Jack pattern familiar to Mini fans. 

Underneath the OLED screen will be a toggle switch bar, allowing touch controls as well as more traditional physical switches.

The redesigned toggle switches operate the parking brake, select gears, activate and deactivate the drive, select Experience Modes and adjust the audio system volume, the company said. The new Experience Modes allow for owners to "individualise and personalise" their driving experiences.

The new Mini Aceman concept car
Photo credit: Supplied / BMW

Each toggle is individually designed as a rotary knob or toggle switch for the most intuitive operation.

Personal Mode allows the owner to load their own image to act as a motif for the OLED display.

"This novel form of personalisation is complemented by a moving image projection on the dashboard which can, for example, show cloud formations, ocean waves and the shimmering surface of a swimming pool," the company said in its press release.

"The selected projection is accompanied by a suitable sound backdrop."

The new Mini Aceman concept car
Photo credit: Supplied / BMW

Pop-Up Mode suggests appropriate navigation destinations based on a category selected by the driver, showing the route on the OLED display and via projection onto the dashboard. 

"For example, you can choose a leisure activity in the 'Adventures' category, a popular restaurant under 'Tasty' or a currently active event location as a 'Trending' destination."

Finally Vivid Mode will create an interactive display of the OLED screen and adjacent surfaces, creating a new entertainment function for during short breaks at traffic lights and while charging the car's battery.

"The purely electric vehicle concept means the design can again be geared more towards Mini's traditional basic values, in terms of the principle of using space creatively," Heilmer said.

The new Mini Aceman concept car
Photo credit: Supplied / BMW

"This creates models that take up little space on the road while offering even more comfort, more versatility and more emotion on the inside than ever before."

The first opportunity to see the Mini Concept Aceman will be at the 2022 gamescom computer and video games fair in Cologne, Germany in late August.