News : MINI Clubvan unveiled ahead of Geneva

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

The MINI Clubvan Concept will be officially unveiled at Geneva – and is the last spin-off  from the existing car, which has been in production since 2007. It promises to be a great-driving city van with an added dash of style. The MINI Clubman-based concept car has an increased load-carrying capability, and opens the (club)door to a completely new market for MINI, premium small businesses.

The ability to adapt goes back to the heart of MINI’s heritage. Calls for maximising the load capacity of the classic Mini began as early as 1960, just a year after the car’s birth, and so the Morris Mini Van was born. With its 10-centimetre-longer wheelbase, separate load compartment and split rear doors, it was perfectly equipped for commercial use. It also provided the basis for the fully glazed, four-seat Morris Mini Traveller, one of the precursors of today’s MINI Clubman.

Limiting the car to two seats creates the capacity needed by business owners on a day-to-day basis, as well as opening up a whole new world of customisation potential. The flat load area which reaches from the split rear doors right up to a partition grille behind the two seats makes full use of the interior’s depth. Six attachment loops recessed into the load floor use elasticated straps to hold cargo in place. The fixed partition grille, made from solid aluminium in the lower part and a stainless steel honeycombe grating, ensures items stowed in the rear won’t fall into the front cabin. The side walls, floor and roof lining of the load area in the Concept are trimmed in anthracite-coloured cloth.

The MINI Clubvan Concept shares the same exterior dimensions as the MINI Clubman – and that includes the LHD ‘Clubdoor’, which in this instance is an irrelevance, but one who’s removal would add significantly to production costs. The company featured on the MINI Clubvan Concept shown at Geneva ‘Hugh Buckingham Signwriter’ is a UK company, based in Southport which creates similar vehicle graphics for its customers. The Concept showcases how these might look on a MINI Clubvan.

 

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

84 Comments

  1. OK for your bijou little patisserie in Notting Hill or Chelsea I suppose,or as a nifty bit of mobile advertising for your firm that usually requires bigger vans to do the real work. One for the boss to nip about in and look trendy.
    S’not bad at all.

  2. If I’m not mistaken, this is the first light goods vehicle ever to be marketed by BMW in modern times. Frankly, I doubt that they will be able to compete in this market against the established players.

    Hopefully their business case is not too optimistic. This will most likely remain a niche vehicle for boutiques.

  3. Great for many businesses! For those who need a company vehicle as opposed to a van the combination of practicality and style will suit well. The Clubvan will also suit many trades which do actually require a van, but not huge capacity. For,say, a plumber with no kids it could also be his car.

    I can see a success here so long as the overall MINI image is not diluted.

  4. As a derivative of the MINI, it’s the most sensible in some time. However, the article does seem to refer to it only as a “concept”, I don’t think it refers to it going into production?

    As a van, it’s obviously completely hopeless by current standards. As a trendy vehicle for a business to advertise on it looks good, though I’m not convinced that the MINI is that trendy anymore.

    It could be a useful for someone wanting to run a MINI as a company car and save tax, although the company tax on a standard MINI is very low anyway, so there may be little advantage.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it never gets beyond the concept stage and is just used to show the crowds something new at a the show.

  5. This makes sense for the thirstier versions – if it is classed as a van there is a flat rate £2000 taxable benefit/BIK

  6. Yep, the side door is an unnecessary feature – actually smacks of laziness, so not so much a concept in the true sense. I’d call it a hurried prototype.

    That said, I agree with all who say it is one of the best MINI derivatives yet, and is closer in spirit to the original than some of the other monstrosities. However that load interior is far too posh for real commercial use. Yes, a small catering business looking for good space to display their name but even for the post office or BT you would need to take that out and ply it up. It certainly wouldn’t be any good for serious graft.

    As with the side-door, it looks as if they have hurriedly removed the interior from the Clubman and stuck in a mesh bulkhead. As it is a concept/prototype at this stage, that is forgiveable as no doubt as with any other concept it is really there to gauge reaction. I really hope they go with it and do a ‘proper’ version.

    Talking of monstrosities, saw my first Coupe around here yesterday and my opinion has not changed one iota…..

  7. Yes, excise the side car and there is a really useful vehicle here. Back looks a little plush for most businesses, but for a surfer it could be ideal – MINI Surf?

  8. What the hell is that for? Who in the current finacial situation would want an expensive, cramped and ugly mini van? They’re only going to sell to florists!

  9. More practical then the Metro van or the fiesta/corsa ones I drove in my last job. I think its the first BINI I like, they need to make it a level loading bay so you can slide heavy items in and out. It will probably offer rear seats as an high cost option to make it more versatile so the side door will stay. I might get one if they ever they reach banger money.

  10. Good lord!
    This IS the first BINI I like… Amazing! Add wood and chrome and leather, get rid of the stupid side door. and it’ll be a winner. A nice little van.

  11. SixtyTen- I noticed that. This seems like a rehashed press release althought it would have been hard to write an article from scratch about this car as there is no information around other that MINI’s press release.

  12. Rover tried to make an upmarket van out of the 25/ZR. This reminds me so much of that, with the single difference that BMW may as well have a go but doesn’t need it, whereas Rover needed every last sale it could get. Nice concept, they probably will sell a few to small businesses, but I doubt many will get very dirty!

  13. A genuinely good idea, although the loading sill really needs to be a bit bigger, we wouldn’t use it at work.
    I can see it being used by florists and bakers who strive for a “retro” look.

  14. @ Sixtyten. Keith was probably given info by Mini, instead of just seeing a few photos on Facebook and sharing them (I assume that’s what’s happened).

  15. It says this is a concept; there are spy shots of a new Bini coming so I don’t think this has much time on the market place planned for it. I don’t think mini are taking it seriously!!!

  16. I like the idea, but I’m having a bit of difficulty thinking who would buy one other than as a stylish, mobile billboard.

    People have mentioned florists; i don’t think that a florist who only needed that sort of capacity in its delivery van would be able to afford one, as they’d have to be quite an unsuccesful flower arranger.

  17. I have to say I think that the van is the best looking of all the Mini variants – at least the side without the clubdoor that is. As others have said though, the suicide clubdoor needs to go, on both the Clubman and the Clubvan. It just looks stupid and spoils the lines of the car, introducing a vertical shutline just where you don’t want one.

    I think that the Clubvan could become quite popular with young childless couples – more loadspace for bikes, shopping, Ikea trips etc.

  18. I heard the current Bini is coming to the end of the road and that z new Bini is around the corner….. This is a concept so by the time it goes into production it won’t have long before Oxford ramp up production for the new new new mini….

  19. It’s just occurred to me – they could do a version with a small third dickey seat accessed through the clubdoor for short distance travel. The seat could fold into the floor and the bulkhead hinge back into place. I’d have one!

  20. I prefer this to the hideous coupe and tasteless Countryman. Still, being better than them is like being the healthiest person in intensive care! The only mini I like is the bog standard ‘one’. This van is horrid.

  21. “Now if they dropped that stupid suicide door, this would be spot on..”

    I agree the ‘club door’ serves no purpose at all on the van.

    “More practical then the Metro van or the fiesta/corsa ones I drove in my last job.”

    Depends on what you need the van for though, both the metro and Corsa vans were really aimed at businesses that didn’t need to carry much, but a van is substantially cheaper to buy than a car for a VAT registered business, for say a chemists delivery van they were fine. It can also avoid company car tax as it’s classed as a commercial vehicle. The Corsa is also offered with a much more capable van body under the ‘Combo’ name.

    “It’s just occurred to me – they could do a version with a small third dickey seat accessed through the clubdoor for short distance travel. The seat could fold into the floor”

    That’s called a Crew van, Unless you’re a VAT registered business, then you may as well just buy the clubman car. I doubt it would be difficult to retro fit though.

  22. well we knew it was coming,less practical and roomy than a astravan and possibly the same price as a sprinter 313CDI MWB cant wait for the pick up so divvies can put thier cockapoo kennels in the back!

  23. Setting that aside this is the best mini yet,strip away the BS the side doors and price it very cheap and it would be a runaway success.

  24. I think this vehicle will be a decent little seller to modern up market companies.I can see your local hairdresser and many trades using as a good advertising tool plus the tax implication for small users would be appealing.I can even see the go ahead Police Forces like the North Wales Force taking a few for non Police duties.

  25. So someone’s replaced the windows with sheets of metal and taken the rear seats out of a Clubman and everyone’s dribbling in their pants about it, why?

  26. I’m reminded somewhat of the MG Express. Looked good but I’ve never seen one.

    The Mini van could work well in Ireland, where tax breaks mean they get all sorts of weird vans like Corollas and Meganes.

  27. Brings back memories or my grandads powder blue 62 mini van with floor starter button and his leaf green 66 van he bought for his retirement.
    Haulier accross the road to me has loveley 67 gray mini van in his company livery.
    So long as its competativly priced it should do ok……..MMMMM Thinks BMW Arnt planning a new sector a premium van sector?

  28. If MINI build this van it will be neither practical nor competitively priced. This will sell at very much a premium price to people that don’t need to carry anything.

  29. This will sell well to types with silly businesses selling useless knick-nacks, trendy interior stuff at excessive prices and hobby florists

  30. Make no mistake, this will sell well.

    As with the current MINI and even the smart fortwo, small vehicles such as this serve as highly effective marketing tools for companies, and certain vehicle brands add further credence to a company’s profile at a perceived level, regardless to the actual reputation of the company or its activities.

    Look at some of the corporate customers who bought the MG ZR Express and found that customers had recognised their trading name based on their novel company van, rather than just business activities. The MINI Clubvan can only build on this legacy left by the ZR Express and, to a lesser degree, the Rover 25 Commerce.

  31. A very clever idea. Will cost peanuts to re-engineer the Clubman to be a van and there is sure to be a ready market for this type of vehicle, whether bearded types like it or not.

  32. Vans can be very tax efficient for the self-employed – surprised they aren’t doing a very hot Q car version, or a pickup.

  33. If they had engineered the new Mini Clubman properly in the first place they would have the little suicide door on the other side for RHD markets. They would then have had two matching sides, with one door each, to use on the Clubvan.

  34. Is there no limit to what this brand can do with this fantastic little car? A serious load lugger the Clubvan may not be, but as a stylish way of making a statement about many small businesses and making your business stand out in a crowd or on our roads, it works in spades!

    Bring it on Mini!

  35. Is there such a thing as a ‘premium’ van? I don’t think so. You only think it’s premium because BMW told you it is, but it’s just a bloody van for carrying goods. If it doesn’t do that well then it’s pointless. Any van can look good with the right company name on the side of it, but it will still look *** in UPS brown.

  36. “Is there such a thing as a ‘premium’ van? I don’t think so”

    Yes, Mercedes Offer AMG versions of the Vito, Ford Offer RS versions of their Transit, i seem to remember VW do a sports version of the Transporter.

    It’s unlikely any large fleet would buy one of these ‘premium vans’, however they’re often bought by one man businesses who want something more fun or eye catching.

  37. Go figure:

    Autocar guesses 1200 litres load space, based on the Clubman’s 920 litres with the rear seats folded.

    The proper Mini van managed 46 cubic feet (1274 litres) or 58 cubic feet (1642 litres) if one used the space occupied by the (optional!) front seat.

    According to What Van?, the Rover Commerce only managed 1000 litres.

    At least, like the Commerce and MG Express, this won’t be an expensive exercise. Might make some tax sense, which was the only point of the blinded 25/ZR.

  38. Remember, MB are releasing a rehashed (Renault/ Citroen?) van and tacking at the hitherto unplumbed ‘premium van’ sector; round here there are burgeoning amounts of vans with alloys and ‘go-faster’ decals as all the old white van chaps have to offload their chav-mobiles as the recession bites and they do more personal miles in what was, previously, a rusty old knackered butcher’s dog.

  39. Nice looking van, I feel its going to be rather expensive for a van for the normal useage for companys, it be more of your upmarket shops.Regards Mark

  40. Yes, definitely more for bijou bakers than burly builders but I think this funky little van would sell well.

    As for Mr. Buckingham’s sign writing business, what a publicity coup! Well done sir!

  41. Yep, think it needs a couple of things – flat floor, roof-bars for the bigger stuff, properly flat-folding passsenger seat a la Ford Courier.

    And as many have already noted, the side-door really doesn’t add anything in this variant and looks like a hangover from the base model that was too expensive to delete.

    I think there is scope for a range of vans as there is for 4×4’s – a resious one for hard work with the roofrack, rubber floor matting etc, and the ‘upmarket’ one pictured, ideal, as many have said, as a primarily publicity-generating vehicle for soft use only.

    And van which takes itself seriously has to be able to accommodate one standard wooden pallet, surely?

    I just can’t see it being used hard on building sites and full of loose screwws and nails and paint slops!

  42. I would imagine the ‘finished’ product will have more practical van fitments. What they have done here could be easily achieved by taking a standard Clubman, removing the back seats and fitting a mesh bulkhead, then getting any graphics firm to produce a couple of wraps to cover the side windows.

    To call this a concept is a bit flattering to say the least.

  43. How long before we see a three door 1 Series ‘van’ in the style of these tax-dodge specials sold in Ireland, Portugal, and Cyprus?

  44. I see from elsewhere on t’web (which is full of stories about this concept) that the side windows are replaced with body-coloured polycarbonate panels for the van version.

    I still like it though. Replace the carpet with mats and fit an internal rack of some sort for 2 bikes and you have a cool weekend tool for active yuppie types.

  45. “the side windows are replaced with body-coloured polycarbonate panels for the van version.”

    Lighter therefore increases payload.

  46. We might joke about flourists and patisserie but if BMW put this into production they would sell like hot cakes.

    Upmarket country towns and Kensington & Chelsea will be swarming with the things.

    If you are a small medium firm wich only needs a small load lugger these will be a very attractive purchase over a Vauxhall Corsa van. Painted the right colour and sign nice signage slapped on and they will look lovely outside your business.

  47. @ Robert Leitch:

    Judging by the BWM 1 Series’ already awful bread-van styling, I naturally had assumed it was a small van. Please don’t tell me this model comes carpeted throughout and with a second row of seats to enable the driver to carry more than one passenger?

  48. The MINI Clubvan is expected to arrive on forecourts later this year, though there’s no official date yet……looks great! A proper bread-van shaped Minivan has been needed and much missed since Austin-Rover’s premature ending production of the original in 1983…..rather than those half-hearted hatchback-based small vans like the Metro, Fiesta, Corsa, etc.

  49. I think delivery drivers will appreciate the suicide clubdoor on their side of the van for ease of access to items at the top end of the loadbay.
    it’s certainly a van with a cut of dash!

  50. Makes sense as an advertising tool. I can see lots of estate agents replacing their ageing signwritten smart cars with one of these

    Plus it uses the standard bodyshell of the clubman so minimal cost involved in creating it. Even if they only sell a handful it doesnt matter.

  51. Wonder if its introduction would reduce the growing, regrettable usage of the American term ‘minivan’ to refer to an MPV?

  52. I like it, but then I have a soft spot for the Clubman, which I think is rather attractive (even with the daft LHD door arrangement). Indeed a much more sensible development than the rather pointles coupe and roadster (even if they will no doubt soon star in R’N’B and rap videos!)

  53. “if that door was on the english side it would be sencible”

    For the clubman i agree, but for the van it doesn’t add anything to it, as it’s not far enough back to get decent access to the load space. Not only that it adds weight to the body, which is just what you don’t want on a van as it reduces the payload.

  54. “For business or leisure, the Clubvan Concept is the world’s first transport vehicle based on a premium small car. And the Clubvan is quintessential MINI. It’s fresh. It’s unique. And its roots are deeply connected to the brand’s heritage: from the original to the original. Inspiration for the Clubvan comes from the 1960 Morris Mini Van. The idea behind the Morris Mini Van was simple. Offer people running a business all the benefits of a Classic Mini with increased functionality and storage space. Holding true to its roots, the MINI Clubvan Concept was also designed with day-to-day usability in mind.”

    Official: On sale second half of this year:

    “The Clubvan builds on the functionality of the original, adding MINI’s premium character and individuality to the mix. And I’m thrilled to announce, for the first time, the MINI Clubvan will go into series production. We’ll launch the Clubvan in the second half of this year.”
    More:
    http://www.motoringfile.com/2012/03/09/ian-robertsons-remarks-from-the-geneva-auto-show/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Motoringfile+%28MotoringFile+|+MINI+News%2C+Reviews+and+Podcast%29

  55. I work for Royal Mail and all our small vans have side doors which are used more than the rear doors. They are however sliding doors which would be more practical

  56. Presumably all the comments about the stupid suicide door are from people who have never owned a clubman. I have one and the door is very useful – classic british disease of knocking things we don’t understand methinks!(

  57. Scraping the bottom of the barrel now aren’t they? S’funny, 20 odd years ago I remember pundits saying that BMW had run out of ideas and if they didn’t find a partner soon they’d be doomed. Seems like what goes around, comes around. Wonder what other manufacturer they’ll try sucking the life out of next? #controversial 🙂

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