MINI’s Five Superhero Cars Strategy Clarified

Unfortunately, we don’t have the details of MINI’s strategy in that regard, but words from Peter Schwarzenbauer – left on this picture and BMW AG Board Member – reported yesterday by Automotive News revealed interesting facts about the future of our favorite brand. While the Five Superhero Cars plan isn’t news to avid MotoringFile readers, we have yet to find out what exactly those five cars will be. However, these new tidbits can help us make an educated guess and they seem to indicate that an all-electric MINI might be part of the pack.

The Plan

The Five Superhero Cars strategy originated from MINI’s desire to have a more focused lineup with the FXX series with the hope of reducing cost and complexity while refining the brand’s value proposition and sustaining its growth. It is also in response to new competition in areas where MINI previously stood alone, as Schwarzenbauer puts it.

The purpose of this strategy is very clear, but what about the five cars? Well, MINI’s Justice League or MINI’s Avengers (we love both DC and Marvel fans here at MotoringFile) already includes the following:

  • Superhero Hatch with all its variants, including the two-door (F56), the four-door (F55) and the cabrio (F57)
  • Superhero Clubman (F54)
  • Superhero Countryman (F60) with its two-door Paceman variant (F61)

This list leaves two open spots and Mr. Schwarzenbauer hints that an all-electric Superlegerra might be superhero #4. In addition, we suppose the Rocketman would make a worthy #5. And for those of you who believe MINI would release a sedan a la BMW 6 and 4 Series Grand Coupe, my approach would classify this model as a Hatch variant. But let’s go back the Superlegerra.

P90151087-MINI Superleggera Vision Roadster Concept

The Halo Effect

We all want this magnificent piece of design to become reality, and given what the MINI Chief said today, it might be well on its way to hit showrooms in the near future. Although this quote from Automotive News reads like something BMW PR would refute by the end of this week, let’s assume for the purpose of this post that the Superlegerra has been vetted for production.

Does it actually make sense for MINI to release a somewhat exlusive car given the relative sucess of recent niche vehicles? We think it might, as this model could have a halo effect on the rest of the brand, similar to what BMW is achieving with the highly coveted i8.

In absolute terms:

The potential for a manufacturer’s increase in demand due to the introduction of a halo model lies with the halo model’s potential to change that firm’s brand perception through a “brand halo”. When a “brand halo” exists, a consumer evaluates a good based on the level of some attribute generally associated with the brand, disregarding in part the actual level of the attribute present in the specific model being evaluated. If a halo model is introduced into the market, is able to change brand perception, and all other variables are held constant, then a shift in demand should follow that change in brand perception.

I’ll admit that the i8 and the Superleggera are somehow extreme examples to explain the halo effect on BMW and MINI sales respectively. The connection between admiration for an i8 passing by and purchase of a “regular” BMW is not necessarily obvious to anyone. However, when looking at how M and JCW cars have driven sales of performance packages and accessories, it is easy to understand that the halo effect has been at work for quite some time across the BMW Group, and that respective BMW and MINI Product Teams have been quite savvy at using it. All in all, while the Superleggera would be a niche and limited-in-supply vehicle, it could have a number of positive repercussion on the rest of the MINI range.

I am just left with one question; going back the five superhero cars, and unless my assumptions are completely wrong, I still see seven to eight different cars making the FXX series which is similar to what we have in the 2nd gen RXX series. So I’m not sure how this validates MINI’s strategy. What do you think?

  • RakSiam

    I think they would probably separate out the 2-door hatch, 4-door, and convertible. Then add the Countryman and Clubby and you’ve got your 5.

  • Elias..

    They just can’t help themselves can they? There is no lineup shrinking just reshuffling…

    This is what I would do:

    MINI Rocketman (3-door, A-segment city car) MINI Hatch (3-door, B-segment car) MINI Clubman (5-door, B-segment car) MINI Convertible (B-segment convertible) MINI Countryman (5-door small crossover)

    And for crying out loud: NO MODEL LONGER THAN 4 METERS…

  • Mr Remi

    I’m with you Alex, I think that’s a logical way to think about the 5 member justice league line-up.

    1. The Rocketman would represent Superman.

    2. The Superlegera would definitely be Batman for me (although a case could be made for Aquaman given the presence of the fin but he’s not as cool).

    3. The Countryman would be the hulk (yes, i know, hulk isn’t really part of the justice league but whatever). . .

    4. The Clubman as green lantern . . .

    5. And that leaves Wonder Woman for the F56 and its variants.

    Yes, I’m a geek.

  • Momi is its own worst enemy. MINI can’t be a micro-niche car company like BMW, with a hundred and two variations on each platform variant… Not enough dales and the cars cost too little. There is so liittle model radiation yhat they steal dales from each other – Countryman/new Clubman/4door Coupe – is but one example. Repackaging gge lineup as “5 Superheros” (each with many cousins) is the most wishful marketing spin, but pretty content free. One still has too many variants with too much overlap, so nothing changes there…

    The i8 works as a Halo car because of tech content and performance. The Superleggara is sharp, but unless it packages i8 tech in a MINI size at a sub Alfa 4C price, its a stillborn waste of effort. As a pure electric it would have to come out at less than $32k, otherwise it will sit on lots while the target customer gets a FIAT 500c (a fun full electric that doesn’t need as much Dev costs cause one doesn’t need a whole new body!) If a production Superleggera is a $50k+ electric with ~100 mike range, it will sell like the Austin Cygnet.. is not at all… A bad idea that could only come from an echochber marketing netting full of low IQ yesmen.

    MINI is in a tight spot. By claiming to be “compact premium” they gave away the value priced segment. Now that other cars have shrink the performance gap (or even exceeded it), it is difficult to justify the expense of well optioned MINIs…..

    And this is a structural issue that no folding electric scooter will solve.

  • BimmerFile_Michael

    When I talked with Mr. Schwartzenbauer a year or so ago he had just taken the helm and his plan at that time was to keep the same number of models but NOT the same model lineup. This remains inline with his current “Super Hero” plan.

    At that time, reading between the lines- the “twins” would be chopped and the 5 door and an additional model (Superleggara/Rocketman) would be added. I do believe that the Paceman will get axed in the current form with a future “Gran Coupe” variant based on the Clubman coming to market in its place.

    In the last 6 months I have seen two MINI early prototypes that have lines more similar to a BMW Gran coupe with the yellow and black MINI camo (once at night and the other in the middle of nowhere on a back road) and I wonder if these were just that vehicle…