Spied! All-Wheel-Drive Mini Cooper S Hybrid
March 28, 2011
by Edward A. Sanchez
Proving that you can pack a lot of technology and hardware into a small package, we’ve come across photos of what appears to be a hybrid version of the Mini Cooper S. Aside from the “hybrid” sticker affixed to the side of the vehicle, there’s also an unusual-looking “pumpkin” between the rear wheels.
It’s believed that the hybridized Mini has all-wheel-drive courtesy of an supplemental electric drivetrain powering the rear wheels. If true, this clever arrangement eliminates the need for a driveshaft or transfer case. With packaging at a premium to begin with in the Mini, this setup was likely decided upon at least partially for interior packaging reasons. However, it does bring up the issue of packaging the almost obligatory lithium-ion battery pack, which can cause packaging headaches on larger vehicles, much less a sub-compact.
However, there is still one highly-experimental solution that BMW may have up its sleeve to facilitate this model: Supercapacitors. These Thermos-sized energy storage units have power density similar to lithium-ion batteries, but in a much more compact size. If this model does come to market, it may be the first mass-production application of this emerging technology.
Images available at link.