A rival of the VW electric bus?

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Volkswagen’s electric bus may soon have a Mini rival. In a press release detailing sustainability initiatives, Mini said it is developing a production electric vehicle that could draw inspiration from the design of the Vision Urbanaut concept shown for the first time in 2020.

The statement states that Mini is “working on developing a new vehicle concept for the premium compact segment” that will satisfy customers’ desires for more space, noting that “a number of creative solutions in this area have been unveiled with the Mini Vision Urbanaut. “

The Urbanaut was originally revealed in November 2020 as a virtual concept, and then reappeared in physical form earlier this year. The concept featured a foldable windshield and an interior that can double as living space, not unlike the classic VW Microbus that serves as the inspiration for the VW ID.Buzz electric van, which will be revealed next year.

Mini Vision Urbanaut concept - June 2021

Mini Vision Urbanaut concept – June 2021

Mini also emphasized sustainable materials, giving the Urbanaut concept an interior free of leather and chrome. Instead, cork and knitted fabric were used, among other materials. This approach would seem to fit perfectly with parent company BMW’s aspirations to reduce the environmental impact of vehicle manufacturing, as demonstrated by the i Vision Circular concept unveiled at the Munich auto show in September.

It’s unclear when a production version of the Urbanaut will appear, but BMW has said it plans to make the Mini brand fully electric by the early 2030s. Meanwhile, VW just barely mocked the prototype of its electric Microbus, whose first deliveries are expected in 2023 for the United States and at the end of 2022 for Europe.

The closest rival to a Mini compact electric van otherwise it might be Canoo lifestyle vehicle, which is expected to start rolling out in 2022. There have also been some potentially outstanding projects in this segment, like eBussy from German electric brands. So far, though, the much-teased VW Microbus electric seems to be formulated for the broader appeal.

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