Automotive News has recently interviewed Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW Group’s board member for MINI, who talked about the brand’s future. Despite a record sales year in 2015, MINI is implementing a more focused strategy which will have at its core five models – MINI calls them “superheroes.” Four of the models are set, but the fifth one has yet to be formally announced.
When questioned whether the fifth car will be the first MINI sedan, Schwarzenbauer said the British marque is not ruling out a compact sedan considering the growth of that segment, but that doesn’t seem the sedan would fit the brand’s image. “If you look at the global industry and ask me which segment is the most interesting on a volume basis, it is clearly the compact sedan,” Schwarzenbauer said. “But does a compact sedan fit the Mini brand? I don’t think so.”
Furthermore, Schwarzenbauer said “[he] can’t rule it out completely because we are running a business here, and from that point of view it’s an interesting segment. But from a brand perspective, I just don’t see a fit. I can’t envision a sedan that could come close to something that is authentically MINI.” The MINI boss acknowledged that his design team has worked on the idea of a MINI sedan, but none of the sketches or fully clay models convinced the board.
Another topic on the table was the fan’s darling Superleggera, the beautiful roadster which was unveiled a few years ago. The gorgeous design of the Superleggera has already built a fan base and a production model will likely be a hit, but compared to the sedan segment, the roadster market has been declining in the last few years.
“The Superleggera is a perfect fit, but we have to look at the business side, as well as the brand side – it’s always a balance,” MINI boss aid “As I’ve said, a sedan would make plenty of sense from a business perspective, but it makes no sense from a brand perspective. The Superleggera is the other extreme. It would be perfect for the brand, but it’s really tough to make the business case work because we know that the roadster segment is small.”
Schwarzenbauer also said the Superleggera – if approved – would likely feature a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. Other MINI hybrids are also scheduled in the future, but fully-electric MINIs are not in their plans at the moment.
The Rocketman concept shown in 2011 also came up during the interview, but the MINI boss says “We currently don’t have an architecture which we could use for that car.”
The fifth hero still seems to be a taboo subject at MINI, but by the end of the year, the company is likely to reveal their final decision.