MINI Cooper SE

BMW Group

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Buying an electric vehicle is easier than ever but still demands tradeoffs for drivers. Short of buying a Tesla and putting money in the pocket of Elon Musk, a pioneer who has nonetheless chosen to live as the embodiment of a poop emoji, there’s probably no more conflicting choice of car than the Mini Cooper EV.

It’s fun to drive, it’s eye-catching, it comes with heated seats and steering wheel standard. But you might be crazy to buy one, because it’s stuck at a maximum range of 114 miles in a world where EVs more typically go 250 miles without a charge.

“It is definitely one of the shortest-range EVs on the market,” said Will Kaufman, a senior writer at Edmunds. “And range is one of the big concerns among EV buyers. There’s a lot of anxiety about ‘Am I going to have enough charge? Is this sufficient for what I need?’ Particularly if it's somebody's only car.”

Mini Cooper EV prices start at $34,225 for that promised 114-mile range, though Edmunds tested a vehicle that went 150. The Hyundai Kona Electric, meanwhile, has a $33,550 starting price and a 258-mile range; the Chevrolet Bolt EV is only $25,600 and delivers a 259-mile range.

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There is competition for buyers interested in spending a lot not to go far: The Mazda MX-30 costs $33,470 with a range of only 100 miles, and the Nissan Leaf is a relative bargain at $28,040 and a 149-mile range. “I don't think they're selling very many of these Mini Coopers at all,” while Mazda’s “not selling a ton” of the MX-30s, and Nissan is more focused on moving its extended-range Leaf SV Plus, Kaufman said. So why do they bother? “Some of it is just a need to establish that they’re competing in the space. You need to have a stake in the game.”

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