News : May 2006

Triumph revival suffers a knockback in the USA


MINI Speedster is coming – Triumph versions aren’t…

FOLLOWING months of fevered speculation about the return of Triumph, it looks like plans for a second-tier MINI based range won’t be leaving the drawing board after all – and expansion of the model range will continue under the single marque.

Plans for an R56-based MINI Speedster had been on the cards for sometime, but following the production of a number of Triumph related design proposals being produced at BMW’s Californian design studios, Design Works. There was a degree of optimism that the expansion of the MINI and other British operations could be successfully expanded to incorporate a second marque, with the intention of making it a self-sufficient division within the BMW Group.

However, recent speculation about the return of Triumph has been quelled by an insider who has confirmed that BMW will not be pursuing the plan – certainly not in the USA. According to Automotive News’ Richard Truett, BMW’s US CEO wasn’t hopeful about the chances of a return when asked at this January’s Detroit Motor Show, and now it looks like those doubts have come into fruition.

According to one source, “Strangely the argument against bringing Triumph back from the dead is that USA MINI dealers don’t want it. They don’t want two brands, although they do want the range expanded. Extensive requirements made by BMW for multi-group dealers would prove to make both the MINI and Triumph franchise unprofitable. BMW is very strict about the separation of MINI and BMW showrooms, and the upfront cost of the Triumph side would handicap existing MINI franchises for what would be a single model planned for only four years’ production.”

What wasn’t said was the difficulties BMW would encounter re-establishing a marque in the USA, which has been dormant over there since 1980. If Triumph was to return, it would take a massive investment in marketing – something not necessarily needed now that the MINI brand is expanding to encompass the Traveller/Countryman, Mini-Maxi and (probably) a Speedster.

According to our source, “The two-seat proposal’s structure forward of the A-pillar is not yet tooled, (nor the rear of the B I would guess) and so the car may yet see the light as the MINI Speedster (as apposed to a Triumph TR9) or some smart marketing spin on the MINI name. The car is yet to be signed off (understood the sign off date was to be end of March 06).”

He added: “Capacity at Oxford is an issue despite recent expansion, and there’s the slight possibility that the MINI may be built elsewhere (rumoured to be South Carolina) using locally produced parts and possibly semi-kits (inc engines) from UK and/or Europe.”

So, it now looks fairly certain that the Triumph revival will not be happening as part of the MINI expansion programme, although there remains the possibility of BMW licensing out the name to any parties serious enough to make a go of it.

Keith Adams

1 Comment

  1. Lost opportunity. A Triumph may have held better for the roadster and coupe where the MINI marque was stretched.

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