In 2001 BMW debuted the R50 MINI Cooper and MINI One to great acclaim. However tucked away in much of the press coverage of the launch was the fact that BMW didn’t expect to even break even on the development and launch costs over the course of the models life-cycle. The problem were economies of scale and the fact that the MINI was a bespoke platform designed from the ground up to be shared with nothing else on the market (save for the Chrysler developed engine). The writing was on the wall even then. BMW needed multiple variants of the MINI to make the brand stand on its own financially.
Fast forward eight years. MINI has successfully launched it’s second generation hatchback and along the way added a convertible and the long wheel base clubman – all based on the core R56 platform (itself based on the R50). But BMW is just getting started. This fall will see the debut of the R60 crossover (likely named Countryman) that will once again feature a relatively bespoke platform. However, even with the R60 sharing components with the R55/R56, BMW intends to maximize the development costs of the new platform but spinning off several variants.
The first of these will be shown in concept form likely at the Detroit Autoshow in early 2010. The concept will resurrect the Moke name and feature a stripped down interior and an exterior devoid of a full roof. Imagine a small version of the four door Jeep Wrangler and you have an idea of what’s in store.
Also on the drawing board is an R60 derived four door GTI type of vehicle. Lower to the ground and without the faux off-road baggage that the Countryman will be saddled with, the SpaceBox concept (as it is called internally) is intended to move the MINI brand into more mainstream waters and is aimed primarily at the European market.
Then there’s the sedan concept that takes the Spacebox and refines it for US tastes. Little is known about the idea other than the look will feature a notchback design and a more conventional trunk.
Finally there are whispers that MINI is considering the spinning off a small truck off of the R60 platform. Similar in concept to the MINI truck built in the late 60’s, the idea is to create an ultra efficient utility vehicle that combines the fun of the current MINI range with surprisingly utility.
With these concept BMW is testing the waters and ultimately the strength of the MINI brand. There’s little question that most of the these concepts won’t see production. However MINI fully intends to build off the R60 platform and spread development costs around as much as possible. That means we will see the range expand dramatically over the years.
To counter-act this BMW is also planning the release of the R56 based Speedster and Coupe concepts (the speedster to be shown in Frankfurt in September) along with a propose MINI branded Project i vehicle.
Once finished we will likely see MINI’s product matrix grow dramatically.
Here’s what we know in terms of launch dates so far (each links to its section on MF):
Here’s what we don’t know:
– R6? SpaceBox
– R6? Moke
– R6? Truck
As always stay tuned to MF for more details as we get them.