Rumors about a Mini Countryman plug-in hybrid (PHEV) have been swirling around since last year.

A sleuth photographer has caught the next-generation Countryman “replenishing its thirst for electrons” confirming that it exists (unfortunately, we cannot print the copyrighted pictures).

Additionally, British publication Autocar recently reported its inside sources say the model will be called the Mini Countryman E.

It’s believed the new Countryman would use electric technology based on the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer PHEV, which has links to the system used in the BMW i8.

That indicates a 136 horsepower three-cylinder gasoline engine powering the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.

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Also expected is a rear mounted 88 horsepower electric motor that would give the car all-wheel drive.

A high-voltage 20-horsepower motor/generator mounted to the front axle would provide extra boost to the engine for short periods of time, as well as acting as the starter motor and generating electricity for the battery,

Anticipated electric-only driving range is around 24 miles with a top electric speed of 50 mph.

Like the current Countryman, the E version will continue to seat five but with more rear seat room, thanks to a longer wheelbase.

Autocar says the new Countryman is expected to arrive late this year as 2017 model.

The new Mini Countryman’s debut is predicted for the Paris Motor Show this fall with an announcement that the Countryman E will go on sale in late 2017.

Autoblog, Autocar