British car maker Mini has built its last mini, with senior officials saying the brand will never have a smaller car. Owned by the German BMW Group, Mini’s line-up will continue to get bigger, as highlighted by the second-generation Countryman due early in 2017.
With its smallest car nearly twice the weight of the original 617kg Mini and 767mm longer, the Mini name has become a brand, rather than an ethos.
BMW Group director of sales and marketing Ian Robertson says Mini will never build a car smaller than the current three-door Cooper hatch, even if it promised to deliver greater volumes.
“The Mini is not a small car,” Robertson said. “To go smaller, demand and profitability is the issue. Below that segment (the Cooper three-door), that’s huge, huge volume and what do you get out of it?”
Acknowledging Mini’s volumes could leap if a cheaper, smaller car anchored the range, Robertson said that was not an upside for the premium small brand.
“A lot of the growth around the world is UKL (the BMW Group’s small, front-drive architecture that hosts every car in the Mini family, along with the BMW X1 and the 2-Series Active Tourer) and small models.
“Do you go after profitability further up the range or small volume? That’s the trade.”
Ironically, environmental concerns and the forthcoming European 95g limit for a car company’s fleet CO2 emissions are other reasons why BMW is shying away from a smaller Mini.
“In the past smaller models gave you higher compensation for CO2, but it’s not like that anymore now that we have plug-in hybrid systems in the big cars. But if you put a plug-in hybrid feature down there (in a mini Mini) you have a price imbalance you can’t recover.” – Mark Smyth