MINI Cooper SE

WE DROVE IT: SHARING THE ALL-ELECTRIC MINI COOPER SE IN SANDTON

Sandton has been the test site for the MINI Sharing pilot located at BlackBrick on Fredman Drive and brings a fresh offering to the concept of ride-sharing.

 

  • The all-electric MINI Cooper SE was introduced to South Africa in September 2020.
  • MINI electrified offers a glimpse into the future of urban mobility with power and zero emissions.
  • The service comes with its own dedicated MINI Sharing app which controls everything from start to finish.
  • Visit www.sandtontimes.co.za for more stories.

 

Unlike many motor vehicle brands in South Africa, MINI South Africa are always ready, able, and proactive in providing media access to their latest releases, and so it came as no surprise when The Sandton Times was invited to test-drive the new MINI Sharing service at BlackBrick Club in the heart of Sandton.

 

Spending the night at the recently opened long and short-stay residential community, it was time to take a Sunday morning drive around greater Sandton to experience the MINI Cooper SE and grab a coffee on the way.

 

MINI Cooper SE
MINI Sharing South Africa is a car-sharing service brought to you by BMW Group and PACE Car Rental. Image: The Sandton Times

Downloading the MINI Sharing app, which turns your smartphone into a digital car key, is quick and easy. The app covers many of the usual questions and admin you would go through when taking out a normal rental car, except it is all digital and self-service. We are connected with Gavin from MINI Sharing to assist us if necessary and to verify our driver’s license.

 

Once the MINI Sharing app is set up, the smartphone controls most of the key functions of the car – excuse the pun – including locking, unlocking, and starting the car via Bluetooth.

 

MINI Cooper SE
When you are done with your MINI ride, simply return it back to the station you picked it up at and end your booking. Image: The Sandton Times

The service, available exclusively to residents of BlackBrick and members of the BlackBrick Club, has dedicated charging bays in the main parking lot. It’s a swipe to the right to get the car unlocked and retrieve a special card, which needs to be swiped against the charging station, to stop the charge and release the car. We disconnect the car from its overnight charging station and pack the charger cable in a special storage space in the boot.

 

Another swipe left and the car is ready to take a drive around greater Sandton with a coffee stop for good measure.

MINI Cooper SE
Open, start, stop and lock your vehicle using the MINI Sharing app – no physical key necessary. Image: The Sandton Times

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE:

  • The acceleration on the MINI Cooper SE is sensational – it takes off immediately. What you will notice is the moment you stop accelerating, the weight of the vehicle becomes evident instantly.
  • Another noticeable difference with the all-electric MINI is the smooth silence with which it moves – there is a faint almost futuristic whisper as the electric car accelerates. That’s it.
  • If you need a ride for an hour or a day, this is a new option to traditional car rentals or an UBER.
  • The car has all the features you’ve come to love about MINI except this one is eco-friendly.

 

MINI Cooper SE
The MINI Sharing vehicles have fixed pick-up and drop-off points and you can pick-up and leave the car in any of the reserved parking bays within the correct locations. Image: The Sandton Times

WHAT YOU WON’T:

  • Naturally, much like anything that needs to be charged, there is a limit to how far you can go with the MINI before it needs to be plugged in again.
  • For now, you will have to return the MINI back to where you started your journey.
  • As part of the rental feature, the MINI Sharing smartphone app has a few safety features built-in, like when you step out of the car to get something out of the boot, the car will switch off and need to be re-initiated by selecting the ‘Drive’ button on the app.
  • Also, should you run over your initially booked time, you will need to log in to the MINI Sharing smartphone app to extend your timeslot before you can drive the car again.

 

The service is priced at R36 per hour and R6 per km with no refueling before returning the car – clearly.

 

For now, the MINI Sharing service in Sandton is part of an ongoing pilot program to measure interest whilst also testing the possibilities and limits of an electric-car rental model. There is no word as yet of more sites coming online but as always MINI South Africa will be sure to keep us updated!

 

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Sandton Times Correspondent

Sandton Times Correspondent

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