This morning MINI officially launched the R56 at the Paris Motorshow. The following is a transcript of the speech given by Dr. Michael Ganal at the event:

Ladies and Gentlemen –
Welcome to the MINI Stand here at the Mondial de l’Automobile 2006 in Paris!
I am delighted that you have come here today to celebrate the birth of the new MINI. In a few minutes, it will emerge from the egg right behind me.

Some of you might ask why we are launching a new MINI now. The old one was really very attractive, and- since its launch in 2001 – it went from success to success. To this day, we have sold a total of over 875,000 MINI vehicles. For the last five years, we have been communicating that we cannot completely satisfy demand.

The MINI brand has a rich heritage and there is a strong sense of tradition. It might have been an option to build on the erstwhile model. But MINI is different. MINI today is an entirely modern brand. Customers can expect this premium brand to come up with something new time and again – concerning product substance, technological innovations and safety features.

So the decision for a new MINI was definitely a consistent one. And it was equally consistent to take this as an opportunity to expand production capacities further. So in the medium term, we will be able to produce 240,000 units a year at MINI Plant Oxford.

Due to the construction measures, the total number of vehicles produced has been lower in the current year, which means that we have not been able to completely satisfy market demand. As per September 2006, we have delivered over 145,000 vehicles to customers, just about nine per cent down from last year.

But then again, we are now well-prepared for the future: When the new MINI generation will be launched a few weeks from now, we will have enough capacities to push the MINI retail volume to new record highs. And we are offering our customers an even more attractive MINI that is completely new in many ways.

Ladies and Gentlemen –

We have enhanced the new MINI’s quality and product substance. There have been improvements in about every area – regarding performance and driving pleasure, design and premium quality as well as safety aspects. Everything that has distinguished MINI so far and that has given the vehicle its mass appeal has been optimized further. The new MINI has again gained in profile.

In the future, it will be even more fun to drive a MINI: The new MINI is equipped with even more state-of-the-art high-tech features. Completely new four-cylinder engines for all models guarantee a considerable increase in performance at a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 20 per cent. The new, electro-mechanically assisted power steering now responds even more precisely. An optimized chassis and a new six-speed transmission further enhance the characteristic MINI go-kart feeling.

Behind me, Ladies and Gentlemen, the new MINI is about to come to life. Let me quickly continue to tell you about the range of new features you will encounter in a moment.

We have enhanced the vehicle’s substance – in terms of safety technology, standard equipment and interior materials. With six airbags, the new MINI is the safest car in its class. And we have improved another one of the MINI’s unique premium features: The new generation offers even more possibilities for customization, an even wider range of surfaces, materials and color combinations as well as many new special equipment options.

For the exterior design of the new MINI, we have chosen an evolutionary approach. Again, this shows how unique MINI really is: Usually, car buyers attach great importance to a visible change in design when a successor model is launched. Quite the opposite is true for MINI customers: They definitely do not want a change. A MINI is supposed to look the way it looks. This has been the unanimous feedback from our customers. So we have placed great emphasis on the new MINI’s recognition value. In a minute you will see that our designers have revised most details without giving up the former design language.

Overall, the design of the new MINI has become much more accentuated and exciting: Characteristic for its front are the round headlights and the hexagon grille which together form the typical MINI face. The muscular shoulders and the strong rear end are the perfect counterweight to the soft, flowing forms of the engine hood. The interior design has been completely revamped: As you will see in a moment, the new MINI’s interior looks much more spacious and sporty.

Ladies and Gentlemen –
It is about to happen – just let me give you a short outlook. According to our plans, the new MINI will serve as the starting point for further derivates and models, the “germ cell” so to say. We are convinced that it offers the ideal foundation for the expansion of the MINI family. So MINI can be expected to deliver further product innovations and extraordinary activities in the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen –
It’s getting exciting. I am proud to present the new MINI to you. The countdown is on! So thank you very much for your attention. And now, it’s time for me to say: Spot on for the new MINI!