If you want to know the current and future state of MINI, you go to the top. And that’s what we did at NAIAS in talking with Dr. Kay Segler. We spoke to Dr. Segler about everything – there was no subject off limits. We started with JCW and the proliferation of the brand throughout the MINI range. As it stands now there’s a JCW model for every MINI model. But Dr. Segler was quick to point out that that won’t always be the case and they want to build a strong sub-brand by keeping it perhaps a little more exclusive moving forward. Yet they also want to broaden the sales of the JCW style packages across the range – much like M has done so successfully for BMW. There’s also a hint of something interesting to come if you listen carefully.
We then move onto the Paceman and how he believes it’s not a niche vehicle. No surprise there, but it’s interesting to hear how Dr. Segler talks about the Paceman and what he believes makes it uniquely different from all other MINIs.
What about the Rocketman? Dr. Segler walked us through why the Rocketman was important for the brand – even if it won’t be built. It’s a fascinating and candid thing to hear from the head of MINI. If you love the Rocketman concept, this makes the interview a must listen.
And what about a smaller MINI? In the research that MINI has done customers are looking for the typical MINI performance but more connectivity and more space in future models. Yes more space. Does this mean the next generation R56 hatch to be more spacious? Dr. Segler point-blank says “yes I guess so”. However given the language barrier etc (and listening to it again) we can’t help but wonder if Dr. Segler is hinting at the new five door MINI that will be coming shortly after the F56 launches.
The shared UKL platform that MINI is co-developing with BMW has had a number of benefits but there’s also a potential downside. Dr. Segler talks about that and why sharing the UKL platform with BMW has been such a boon for MINI – especially with technology, engines and efficiency.
Then there’s the GP. According to Kay Segler the GP is pretty much sold out worldwide. Clearly where it’s not is the US due to the late launch. But it’s interesting to hear how well the new GP has been received elsewhere.
Finally the diesel question. We put it to Dr. Segler – when will we see diesels in the US. And he answered us very clearly. We will not see diesels in the current models as MINI hasn’t engineered them to accept the urea tank needed for the US. However, MINI is planning on bringing diesels to the US in the next generation models.
And what about hybrids? MINI is looking at plugin hybrids due to weight savings over standard hybrids.
As you can tell it’s a wide ranging interview that is a must listen for any MINI fan.
MotoringFile/WRR Interview: [audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/www.whiteroofradio.com/podcasts/NAIAS13b.mp3]