The New York Times (of all publications) takes on the questions we asked earlier this week: what does the 1 Series mean for the MINI? Well actually they focus on the more general issue of one company launching two similar cars from two different brands. It something that a few companies are dealing with something that the BMW Group will be faced with in the US when the 1 Series finally lands here in 2008. Here’s an excerpt:

>BMW makes Mini Coopers, but it will eventually be competing for similar buyers and budgets when BMW brings its 1-series cars to the United States. This trend – call it brand bumping – essentially describes what occurs when car companies move a brand or a nameplate in a new direction, generally further up or down in price, in hopes of creating a new identity and attracting more buyers.

>Because it is hard for automakers to make big moves with cars that have clear identities, they often have to do this a step at a time, through new designs or by adding more powerful engines.

>”You’re moving the car halfway out of one brand slot and into another brand slot,” said David E. Davis, editor of Winding Road, an online car magazine. “It does have the effect of moving the car up one level to the next price class or the next size class.”

>…For its part, BMW faces its own potential brand-bumping issues with the 1-series, a small hatchback about to enter its second generation in Europe. It has never been sold in the United States, although BMW’s new chief executive, Norbert Reithofer, has said it is eventually headed here, though no date has been set.

>BMW already has the experience of selling 1-series and Mini in Europe, Michael Ganal, a BMW board member, said in an interview last year. “Their character is so different that they do not” overlap, Mr. Ganal said. But BMW does not sell a hatchback in the United States, where such cars have a cheaper reputation than sedans, he pointed out.

You can read the entire story below:

[ Fraternal Twins in the Showroom ]