MINI may not have had anything new to show at Frankfurt, but there was certainly a buzz around it, given the impending launch of the F56. The hot topic of conversation was that MINI could grow from the current seven model line-up to ‘eight or 10’, thanks to the flexibility of the new architecture that underpins it, the UKL1 platform.
BMW Group is aiming for a total output of 900,000 UKL1 cars per year and that not only includes MINI variations, but the front-wheel drive BMW 1 Series offshoots, such as the upcoming GT. Currently, the R56 hatch and the Countryman are the best sellers in the range globally, taking about one-third each of total sales leaving another third to be split between the five other models.
Those additional model lines don’t look likely to be smaller, entry-level models, as hinted at by the Rocketman Concept (below). The new architecture allows for the MINI range to stretch in length from 3.8m to 4.5m – whereas the Rocketman was nearer 3.25m in length.
‘We have to be very careful how we develop the product portfolio and the MINI brand,’ said Peter Schwarzenbauer, board member with responsibility for MINI, Rolls-Royce and Motorrad, the motorcycle division.
‘We’re defining the long-term portfolio and asking what the image of MINI will be in 2020. But we have to respect MINI’s heritage,’ he said, adding that the reason the variants have become bigger is in response to customer feedback.
Global sales are currently around 300,000 and, with production now at three facilities – Oxford, Magna in Austria and NedCar in the Netherlands – there is the potential to grow further. ‘But I’m not a fan of putting big numbers out,’ Schwarzenbauer added.