MF Exclusive: This past weekend I had the opportunity to be a part of MINI USA’s official 2007 MINI press introduction. Among some of the more interesting experiences over the past two days was getting to spend some time with MINI executives. Now it’s worth noting that, most of the more probing questions were met with a smile and a “no comment”. However during one part of the conversation with the man behind MINI USA, Jim McDowell, we got some unusual and welcome candor.

While talking about the new MINI I asked Mr. McDowell how important he thought being British built was to the MINI brand. His answer was rather interesting. He mentioned that, while it’s important for MINIs to be built in Oxford, it shouldn’t be a limiting factor. He went onto say that it’s also very important to the BMW brand that BMWs are built in Munich. But that doesn’t stop BMW from having plants in such locations as South Africa, Austria and the United States. With pens flying (notably by the Wallstreet Journal writer to my left) Mr. McDowell continued to discuss what the future had in store for the brand, “expect to see four to five models in total from the MINI brand in the next five years.”

Jaws gaping, he was asked to repeat himself by Mr White from the Journal. So he said it again in a slightly different way, “we will have an important new production every year for the next four to five years.”

So let’s do a quick count:

1. R56 Coupe
2. R55 Clubman
3. R57 Convertible
4. R58?
5. ???

And while we had a couple of fascinating conversations over the weekend, none was more telling and on the record as that bit of news.