Press Report : Brand boss hints at a new ‘mini’ MINI

David Jolley, Automotive News Europe, 13th December, 2010

Mini Spiritual from 1997. Are we about to see its successor reach production?

Mini Spiritual from 1997. Are we about to see its successor reach production?

MINI may develop a small car for parent BMW AG, brand boss Wolfgang Armbrecht said. Armbrecht hinted to a German newspaper that there may be some news in the coming months about a “mini” MINI that would be the BMW Group’s smallest vehicle.

”We have always been motivated by the idea to build a small spacious car,” he told the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper. There will be a taste of ”the next spectacular idea from the MINI brand” at the Detroit Auto Show he told the newspaper in an interview published on Monday. ”Keep a close eye on the coming months,” he added.

BMW’s development chief Klaus Draeger warned recently during a company event that MINI should be careful to protect its brand image and not build too many large cars.

MINI expansion

MINI is planning to launch both coupe and cabriolet versions of a new roadster during 2011 in a product expansion to help reach yearly sales of 300,000 units. Through November, the brand sold 208,830 units, a 5.4 percent increase on 2009 sales.

Armbrecht identified the Dealer Network as an important area where MINI need to develop. It is not enough for the brand to have its own dealerships, it also needs servicing and parts facilities, he told Financial Times Deutschland.

There are 1300 MINI Dealers globally but only 50 percent are currently exclusive dealerships. Efforts are being made to change this to 100 percent within 10 years, he said.

[Source: Automotive News Europe]



18 Responses

  1. Chris Chapman - December 14, 2010

    An image (possibly very speculative) of a smaller MINI has already appeared in Auto Express and there was talk of bringing the Isetta brand back. I’m glad they appreciate the risk of MINIs getting too big though.

  2. Cameron MacAulay - December 14, 2010

    It won’t be built here.

  3. Wilko - December 15, 2010

    @Chris Chapman
    Appreciate the risk? It’s a bit late for that isn’t it?

    There are plenty of modern-day successors to the Mini – very small cars which make best use of available space and are the real legacy of Alec Issigonis’ ingenuity. The abomination that is the BINI is not one of them.

  4. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling - December 15, 2010

    This sounds like a good idea. A smaller MINI would probably sell and would also help ensure the brand values aren’t diluted too much. However, it would need to be profitable – which means expensive and probably not built here in the UK.

  5. David 3500 - December 15, 2010

    Despite its huge sales success and helping to maintain manufacturing jobs in the UK, the MINI only trades on the name and looks of its predecessor. It is an expensive car to buy and has a remarkably large footprint in relation to the tiny interior dimensions on offer. A new, small MINI (MINI City, anyone?) is definitely needed to sit below the current version because of the competition from the brilliant and more honestly priced Fiat 500.

    Hopefully, the next generation Smart Fortwo will also offer credible competition to a new, smaller MINI, although only if Mercedes-Benz finally listens to the criticisms made by its customers, revises its servicing and parts prices and improves its customer service standards at dealerships, particularly in the South West.

    Anyway, on the assumption that Cowley is both large enough and flexible enough to take on what would be another large volume model, let us hope that a strong business case can be made for such an offering to be built here in the UK.

  6. Ayd Instone - December 15, 2010

    Why not just call it the MINI Minor?

  7. Tim Collis - December 15, 2010

    The current BMW ‘MINI’ is massive in comparison to Issigonis’ original. I saw one parked next to an old BMW 3 Series last week and it was almost as big!

    It would be good to see something more akin to the original, both in size and innovation, and it would be great to see it being built here but, as has already been mentioned, that probably won’t happen.

  8. Jemma - December 15, 2010

    There’s a whole lot of lard in modern cars these days. What was a top of the range car 15 years ago is the same size as a mid-range saloon now – and you don’t get any more space for your money…

    The problem with Smarts and similar cars is that they are just too small – in a 15ft car you have crumple zones but in a Smart the whole car is the crumple zone and woe betide anyone in it at the time.

    It’s true that a smaller car is more efficient but, on balance, I’d rather spend a little more money on fuel if it means I don’t end up as human molecular mulch because some Polish lorry driver’s eyeballs are running on caffiene.

    I have been in two serious accidents and on both occasions I and the people with me would have been dead if we had been in a Smart Fourtwo or the like – as it was, it was only pure luck and a premonition that saved two of my close friends.

    Anyway, building the “mini” MINI in the UK would make a lot of sense if it’s only going to be sold in Europe but, if there is a worldwide market, then I think there’s a good chance we are going to lose out…

    It’s probably unlikely that it would be called the MINI Minor not least because it doesn’t really follow on and, more to the point, because it’s a matter of who actually owns the Minor nameplate/trademark.

  9. Wilko - December 15, 2010

    Jemma :It’s probably unlikely that it would be called the MINI Minor not least because it doesn’t really follow on and, more to the point, because it’s a matter of who actually owns the Minor nameplate/trademark.

    I imagine BMW do – I think they still own most of the old brand names (Austin, Morris, Triumph, etc.).

  10. Paul Taylor Paul T - December 15, 2010

    @Wilko
    NAC/SAIC Motor certainly own Austin and, possibly, Morris as well.

  11. Mike C - December 15, 2010

    @Tim Collis
    That’s the nature of modern cars – the demands for safety (occupant and pedestrian), people getting fatter and higher comfort expectations make it very hard to create stylish, genuinely small cars. The new Fiat 500 is, for example, massively larger than the old one.

  12. Clive Goldthorp - December 15, 2010

    Interestingly, a quick search on the Intellectual Property Office’s website reveals that, while Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corporation (NAC) owns the IPRs to the Morris Minor Trade Marks, BMW AG owns the IPRs to two MINI MINOR Trade Marks.

    However, the first appears to be restricted to use on the goods in Nice Class 25 – Clothing rather than Nice Class 12 – Vehicles and seems to be due for renewal on the 18th August, 2011 while the second can seemingly be used only on the goods in Nice Class 28 – Toys (including scale model vehicles) and falls due for renewal on the 25th February, 2015…

  13. Andrew McCheyne - December 15, 2010

    They could call it the CityRover!

  14. Clive Goldthorp - December 15, 2010

    @Andrew McCheyne
    Ironically, neither Land Rover nor Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corporation appear to own the IPRs to any CityRover Trade Marks!

  15. James - December 15, 2010

    All these years on, the Spiritual and Spiritual Too still look damn good!

  16. Dennis - December 15, 2010

    Well, as any new “mini” MINI will be a city car it could always be called the MINI Metro. MGR had to name the CityRover as such because BMW kept the Metro name…

    The MK1 BMW MINI isn’t any bigger than comparable cars of the era to be fair. A MY01 Ford Fiesta actually has very similar external dimensions – the MINI is slightly wider and slightly lower which makes it ‘look’ bigger, but the tape measure tells a different story.

    Indeed, when you look at most of the models which have been in production for a while they’ve grown – look at the Golf, for example, it’s massive compared to the Golf Mk1 and that also applies to the Polo. The latest Fiesta is much larger than the 1976 version. The Renault Clio is bigger than the Renault 5 – it’s all largely due to safety regulations.

    I’m a classic Mini owner and am not a huge fan of the BMW MINI, but you have to accept that the classic Mini is a very small car by modern standards. Let’s face it no one would buy something so uncomfortable these days! You either have to make the car longer or lose the rear seats a la Smart in order to give it legroom in the back.

  17. MM - January 3, 2013

    Not quite true, the Toyota Iq is very close to the classic Mini, though brought up to date for safety benefits, including the high bonnet line for pedestrian impact considerations, “Dr Moultons words” the Iq was even pencilled for Front to rear suspension connection, “the wet Mini”

  18. Will M - January 3, 2013

    The Aston Cygnet looks quite like a classic Mini, with that big Austin grille (that Ford are now trying to copy, with an Austin grilled Mondeo)

    Even has UK plates!

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