The concept of a digital assistant inside of cars has been around for years but the little British bulldog named Spike is different. Full integrated into MINI’s next generation circular infotainment system, Spike, will play a significant role in the driving experience according to our sources.
While MINI is only announcing the concept today, we’ve been told by sources to expect Spike to have the ability to not just handle typical voice activated features like navigation but also the car’s core functionality as well. Need to close the windows or turn on the heated seats but have both hands on the wheel, Spike can help. With MINI moving things heated seats from physical buttons to software settings, this feature could be a much needed shortcut.
Now let’s talk about the name. As good as the assistant might ultimately be, the name is more than a little “cringey”. In fact first reaction was harken back to a classic Simpson’s episode when the makers of the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon created a character designed by a bunch of executives to appeal to kids called Poochie. Ironically in trying to be cool, it was inherently uncool and the character hilariously failed. Could Spike be a modern day Poochie?
We’ll hold our judgement until we see it in action. Until then read on for the full press release and gallery showing early concept interactions. Both Spike and the Aceman concept (same one we saw last year) will be shown at the Shanghai Motor Show this week.
Official Release: MINI Unveils Spike – The Brand’s Digital Assistant For New Generation of Models
Munich, Germany, April 9, 2023. Spike, the canine friend of the MINI brand, is reimagined and brought to life in the digital world. Inspired by the look of an English Bulldog, he guides you through the operating concept of the future MINI model family. In his role as MINI Intelligent Personal Assistant, he provides various forms of support. Spike makes his first major appearance at the Auto Shanghai international trade fair (18-27 April, 2023) in China.
There, the reimagined four-legged friend will become an art toy welcoming visitors to the MINI stand as a large-format sculpture. Art toys are independent works of art that combine elements of toys and sculptures in the style of urban pop culture. Spike will also be appearing as an active protagonist in the cockpit of the new MINI Concept Aceman. The new Spike mode sets the perfect stage for the digital companion, who is presenting to the public for the first time on the circular OLED central display and dashboard. MINI will enable comprehensive insights into the digital world of the new model family and Spike’s diverse functions in the further course of 2023.
Spike has been accompanying this British premium brand’s success story since the modern MINI debuted in 2001. The bulldog, with its compact and powerful stature, British heritage and likeable nature was considered the perfect animal equivalent of the MINI even at the time. “MINI will always be synonymous with emotions and remarkable experiences,” said Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design. “That’s why we are now taking Spike into the future as a digital character. And he is not just a design experiment – he is becoming a characterful companion for the user experience.”
For the MINI community, the MINI Design Team developed Spike from an initial sketch to a versatile companion that draws attention beyond just the vehicle; he has already been staged as an art toy as part of the world premiere of the MINI Concept Aceman. Wherever Spike appears, he delivers unexpected experiences and exciting encounters.
The launch of the brand’s new model family strengthens the vehicle’s connection with drivers’ individual lifestyles. This emotional connection between person and automobile is invigorated by a digital character that Spike embodies in his very own personable way.