Bookmark this post. Because in 7-8 years we’ll be talking about this as a reality.
According to Autocar, BMW plans to reduce the number of models within the MINI range with the introduction of the fourth generation car. Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board member for Mini and Rolls-Royce suggested that MINI focus on it’s core “hero” models rather than create many derivatives. While it’s not necessarily something we haven’t heard before, this is the first time a BMW Board member has gotten into the strategy behind the move.
Reducing MINI Variants
This concept of re-focusing the brand seems based around investing more into each car and maintaining a level of engineering, design and quality of the highest order.
He said BMW had to be “sensitive about the number of variants and about size. It is better to go in a different direction to concentrate on doing less but better”.
The idea here is to spend more on less models thereby making those models even perform, look and achieve a higher quality than previously though attainable. Given the execution of the new F56, it’s clear MINI is already well down this path. According to sources BMW has invested literally billions into the UKL platform that every new 3rd generation MINI will be based on.
More differentiation in Styling
While we haven’t seen the entire range of the 3rd generation MINI (the first of that generation was just released with the F56) we’ve heard through several sources that the overall styling will be very consistent throughout the range. Even more so than today with the R60 having a distinctly different face than the R56. According to Autocar, Mr. Schwarzenbauer “would like to see the styling of future Mini models to change to have much greater differentiation” as the line-up shrinks.
Furthermore Schwarzenbauer spoke about MINI investing in a small London based design studio to help bring the brand closer to it’s British roots.
Moving Up Market
All this could mean better cars but it could also mean higher prices. Given the trend towards small premium products (that MINI basically invented in many markets) BMW seeing this as a natural progression of the brand. The key question being, can BMW continue to play to higher end while offering an entry level into the brand.
What Models Will Survive
According to Autocar it’s clear that Schwarzenbauer sees the hatch, convertible and a proper crossover as key. I’m sure there are some intense internal debates happening at MINI HQ to figure out the rest. As we’ve reported, we expect to see the Roadster and Coupe combined into one car or killed off entirely. Furthermore the R54 Clubman and the barely smaller F55 four door hatch may ultimately become one.
Autocar mentions that we’ll start to see this thinking in product execution with the introduction of the next Countryman in 2017. While that car will be on the same UKL platform as the F56, it will be a good time for MINI to introduce the strategy as it redoes the 4th generation cars – starting with the Hatch in late 2020.
And wouldn’t it be great if BMW threw in some carbon fiber along the way?