It’s Minis to the MAX
A dozen more choices are on the drawingboards, writes Paul Gover
BABY car buyers will be able to choose from as many as a dozen new Mini and BMW cars inside five years.
A giant product push is under way, led by the Paceman — a Mini coupe — confirmed for production just over a month ago at the Detroit motor show.
BMW Group has plans for cars that will stretch the Mini line-up to more than eight models and also deliver a front-wheel drive BMW that is smaller than its existing starter car, the 1 Series.
The key is an all-new front-wheel drive mechanical platform and a small-car strategy called UKL.
‘‘The whole group is always looking at new niches. The next big step in that direction for us is the UKL strategy where we will bring a group of cars which are below our current entry points,’’ Ian Robertson, global head of sales and marketing at BMW Group, tells carsGuide.
‘‘It’s the front-wheel drive BMW and there will be Mini products off it as well. There could be upwards of 10 derivatives of this car, across the two brands. Could be. Not finalised yet.’’
Robertson confirms the production plan for the Paceman coupe but says some speculation on Mini’s future is wide of the mark.
‘‘What we haven’t got is a mini Mini, despite what might have been in the press. We haven’t decided if that is the place to be. We have to be very careful.’’
Robertson says BMW Group sees massive growth potential in its small- car strategy, comparing the eventual production targets to the 600-700,000 cars a year delivered by the 3 Series range at its peak.
‘‘Where all the growth is coming in the premium segment is in the small and compact cars as we go into the future,’’ he says. ‘‘In our view, the next 10 years, is where we will see major growth. And the markets growing around the world are also likely to take these sort of cars.’’
Robertson will not give any detail on the plan, beyond confirming the Mini models will still be built in Britain and there is no intention to move to low-cost production in countries such as China or India.
‘‘They will be built in several places, but primarily in Europe,’’ he says.
Although BMW was beaten in Australian showrooms in 2010 — a result it challenges — Robertson predicts a Down Under comeback in 2011 and continued growth in every country where the country sells its products, driven by new models and updates of existing vehicles.
‘‘We will replace around 60 per cent of our model line-up by the end of 2012. We have the same targets across the world. We want to be the leading premium manufacturer,’’ Robertson says.
More Mini: The Paceman coupe will join the Mini range.