MINI Press Conference

Last week we brought you videos of the MINI concept introductions along with several press releases. Today we have the full transcript of the speech given by Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Sales and Marketing, at the MINI Press Conference at the Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA) 2009.

Hello everyone and welcome to MINI!

This is truly a great year for MINI. Turning 50 is an important milestone. For some, it might mean slowing down a bit, taking things easy, but not MINI! MINI is as young and exciting as ever. For MINI, 50 is just the right year to start something new. And soon, in true MINI style, we’ll let you in on a great birthday surprise.

Here we have the MINI 50 Mayfair and the MINI 50 Camden. They’ve been developed especially for this anniversary and they are what anniversaries are all about – casting an eye back into the past, but also looking ahead.
“Mayfair” and “Camden” display the perfect harmony of tradition on the one hand and a look into the future on the other. Production of the MINI 50 Mayfair and the MINI 50 Camden began last month, exactly 50 years after the launch of the classic Mini, and will last for one year.

Two great cars – and MINI to the core!

I wonder if Sir Alec Issigonis, the “father” of the Mini, knew what he had begun when he created the Mini. I wonder if he knew that his creation would become an icon and one of the most recognizable cars in the world. Mini was and always will be unique.

The launch of the new MINI in 2001 under the BMW Group marked the beginning of a new success story. And the creation of the premium segment for small cars.

So where do we stand with MINI today? Since the re-launch of the MINI in 2001, we have sold around 1.5 million MINIs. After record sales in 2008, MINI has held its own in a very challenging market this year. In fact, MINI sales in 2009 are almost at the same level as last year.

And recent months have even given us cause to be cautiously optimistic, with MINI back on a growth path. We’ve seen positive developments in key MINI markets such as Germany, UK and Italy.

The USA remains the biggest single market for MINI and we are confident that MINI will perform well there also in 2009. As MINI prepares for long-term growth in the US, MINI is expanding its dealer network by 20 percent over the next 15 months. This will put the MINI brand in over 100 dealerships for the first time in its history in the US.

MINI continued to generate a very high-value product mix during the first half of 2009. More than half of customers opted for a MINI Cooper, nearly 30 percent for the MINI Cooper S and 17 percent for the MINI One.

MINI is definitely a car for today and the future. And it is a logical choice for those who want a fuel-efficient and eco-friendly vehicle which is still a lot of fun to drive. The MINI product portfolio is simply more versatile and more appealing than ever. A one-product brand has evolved to become a brand with a product family. We began with just the Hatch in 2001, launched the Convertible in 2004 and the Clubman in 2007.

But don’t think that MINI will stop there. MINI is a brand which is so exciting and has so much potential. MINI will continue to grow and create new segments.

And you may well ask, what is MINI planning next?

We’ve already announced the MINI Crossover, which is due to join the family next year. You’ll be seeing and hearing more from us about the MINI Crossover in the next months. We want to pay tribute to the first 50 years of MINI in true MINI style and what better way to celebrate than with a look ahead. I promised you a surprise and now we’re going to deliver on that promise.

I’m really very proud to present the world premiere of not one, but two exciting new concepts for MINI: The MINI Coupé Concept and the MINI Roadster Concept!

As a true MINI fan, I can honestly say, I think these cars are really something. They are an expression of MINI design and the ability of the brand to evolve new concepts and create new segments. The source of inspiration is clearly the trait so characteristic of MINI: driving fun!

Agile handling and sporting success are significant highlights in the history of MINI over the last five decades. This anniversary year is therefore the ideal time to present the MINI Coupé Concept – a hard-core, dynamic two-seater sports car; and the MINI Roadster Concept – an intensely emotional open driving experience.

The two revolutionary concepts are based on a platform specially created for integrated production at MINI Plant Oxford. They are based on the MINI Hatch platform and exhibit commonalities, but of course each model is highly unique.
I’m not going to spend too much time on details, because I think the cars speak for themselves.

It was ultimately our goal to work with synergies as much as possible. Up to the waistline the Roadster and Coupé are virtually the same. Above the waistline, the first striking feature on the Coupé is the strongly inclined windscreen merging gently into the aluminium roof. The windscreen has been raked back a further 16 degrees than that of a regular MINI.

The roofline is quite distinct and featured for the first time on a MINI. It forms a bridge shape und curves down to a large spoiler – the effect has already been referred to by some as a “back-to-front baseball cap”. All this gives the MINI Coupé Concept a forward-moving impression; it is energetic even at a standstill.

The roof is six cm lower than on the Hatch, which not only optimizes the overall weight of the car, but also lowers the car’s centre of gravity. The significant reduction of body movement takes driving behaviour and typical MINI agility to a new level.

The Roadster is of purist character and elegant design. Its stylish looks and high-class interior make this a truly exclusive two-seater.

The focus of the MINI Roadster Concept is maximum driving fun with nothing but the sky above. The soft top opens and closes manually in a very quick and easy action. The Roadster comes with extra-short body overhangs front and rear, emphasising that it is also a top-athlete.

Let’s talk about power: The Coupé has the most powerful engine currently available at MINI: the 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharged power unit from the MINI John Cooper Works. The Roadster is powered by the 1.6 twin-scroll turbocharged engine already featured in the MINI Cooper S. Both models offer truly outstanding performance.

At the same time both cars clearly follow the strategy of MINIMALISM.The construction of both cars is based on a lightweight concept and both have a lowered centre of gravity. This means greater efficiency, minimum fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The best news of all for MINI fans is that we will produce both of these cars. I can’t give you further details at the moment, but they will be built in Oxford. The MINI product family will grow to be a family of six!

Thank you!