BMW has a hit on their hands with the MINI. But they also have a problem; how to sell more small premium cars. Research is showing that the small premium car category has huge growth potential and that only having one brand offering such a car may be a mistake. BMW’s solution? To based a small front wheel or all wheel drive BMW off of the next generation MINI platform.
Last week on BimmerFile we noted that during BMW Chairman Norbert Reithofe’s speech he made it clear that BMW and MINI were extending their brands into the small car segment. But what did that exactly mean? Was he talking about the shared platform between the MINI and a new small BMW or BMW’s new range of “megacity” cars sub-braned as iSetta? Autocar had a chance to ask the man that very question.
Being careful to separate the new price-leading front-wheel-drive model from BMW’s upcoming city car – a totally different project as part of its Mega City Vehicle electric car initiative – Reithofer added, “For these new vehicles [the new BMW and Mini] we are developing a common architecture for both front and four-wheel drive.” While exact details remain shrouded in secrecy, Autocar can confirm the new entry-level BMW has been conceived to run the same front-wheel-drive underpinnings as the next-generation Mini Cooper.
Autocar predicts this new BMW will be built along side the MINI in Oxford. However our sources tell us this is impossible given the current cost of expanding the plant even further. Instead it’s likely that the new small BMW will be built alongside a small slice of the next generation MINI production at a current BMW plant in Germany. It’s worth noting that our sources tell us that all MINIs produced in Germany will be destined for the European market as a way to insulate the British currency issues BMW currently faces.
Regardless of where the car is built, a front wheel drive MINI-based BMW will be a reality. According to Dr. Reithofe the premium small car segment is growing too fast to ignore. And with BMW already having a world-class small car platform to draw from, it’s obvious why the decision makes business sense. Look for the car to debut around the same time as the next generation MINI in 2013 and be sold predominantly in Europe. It will not be available in the US market.
Now the question that we’re dying to ask MotoringFile readers: