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Electric, Sustainable, Limitless: The MINI Cooper SE Makes Driving Fun for People with Disabilities.

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Driving offers autonomy, so it is a form of freedom. The all-electric MINI Cooper SE (combined power consumption: 17.6 – 15.2 kWh/100 km according to WLTP; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km) features driving and operating aids that makes zero-emission driving fun in the small car segment available to people with disabilities for the first time. “For me, diversity means allowing everyone to share in the hallmark MINI driving experience. And this applies equally to the electrified MINI, of course. Our goal at MINI is to give everyone equal access to such important innovations,” says Stefanie Wurst, Head of MINI.

Driving Experience instructor Tina Schmidt-Kiendl, herself a wheelchair user, was able to provide particularly valuable input when it came to fitting the MINI Cooper SE with operating aids. On this basis, the vehicle was equipped with an accelerator ring on the steering wheel and a handbrake knob next to the steering wheel, and these were then put to the test in practice. “The design of the MINI Cooper SE is very accessible as it is. With the dual recuperation, you have full control for instant acceleration and braking,” said Tina Schmidt-Kiendl after her test drive.

When they went out for a test run to Munich together, however, Tina Schmidt- Kiendl and Stefanie Wurst noticed that the city still had some catching up to do in terms of urban planning: charging points are often installed on the pavement and are difficult to access for people in wheelchairs because of the kerb, or because the display and charging socket are too high up. Other European cities have taken a more pioneering approach with their focus on electromobility: here, e-charging points have to be accessible for everyone, so they are installed barrier-free at ground level, directly on the parking space marking. “If we want society to be really inclusive, we have to listen to each other. We have to consider everyone’s needs – especially when it comes to technical innovations,” says Stefanie Wurst.

With its traditional design features and forward-looking drive technology, the MINI Cooper SE combines the authentic style of the traditional British brand with emission-free driving fun – whether in an urban setting or on excursions outside the city limits. People with disabilities can select customised solutions for individual conversion options for their MINI vehicle by having various driving and operating aids installed, allowing them to fully enjoy hassle-free personal mobility.

In the MINI Cooper SE, for example, this might involve having an accelerator ring and the accelerator ring system installed, as well as the hand control for the brake and a removable pedal cover. The closed accelerator ring for electrically driven vehicles is installed inside the circle of the steering wheel, allowing convenient manual operation of the throttle function by means of hand pressure. The shape of this attachment facilitates safe operation, ensuring maximum control of the vehicle – with both hands always on the steering wheel. In the MINI, the accelerator ring can be deactivated by means of a switch. And since it is wirelessly operated, it can be removed if necessary.

The “reduced throttle characteristic” setting makes it much easier to park and pull away gently when in congested traffic. When braking, only minimal effort is required to reduce speed with the handy brake lever. When mounted on the right-hand side below the steering wheel, the brake lever is easily accessible at all times and runs to the brake without any rod assembly getting in the way of the vehicle dashboard. A pedal cover for the original accelerator and brake pedals protects the driver from accidental operation, thereby enhancing safety. The cover can be easily removed at any time for versatile use of the MINI Cooper SE.

Its modern features in the areas of driver assistance, infotainment and connectivity mean that the MINI Cooper SE continues to offer convenient usability. With its modern graphic display on an 8.8-inch touchscreen, the latest generation of the MINI operating system is optimised for quick and intuitive control of the vehicle functions, audio programme, communication, navigation and apps.

In order to ensure confident, safe and sporty handling of the converted vehicle, MINI drivers can also take a special driving safety training course at the BMW and MINI Driving Experience centre in Maisach just outside Munich. This allows them to practice braking and avoidance manoeuvres on various road surfaces, as well as lane changes with and without deceleration. In addition to maximum safety and confidence at the wheel, participants can also do highly dynamic driving exercises so as to derive even greater enjoyment when taking bends in sporty style. In this way, MINI enables safe, individual mobility without restrictions and sustainable, purely electric driving pleasure for everyone.

Source: BMW Group

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