Rumors about the future of the MINI line-up are seemingly growing in numbers by the day. Just last week news around a MINI sedan surfaced on the Interwebs and now the MINI Rocketman and Superleggera are at the center of newstories.
During a recent chat with Autocar, MINI’s product chief, Ralph Mahler said the company is tempted by both models but since the Oxford-based automaker is still a low-volume manufacturer, can’t bring both of them to light on the spot. However, the great reception they received when unveiled in concept form has worked in their favor and triggered discussions internally at MINI.
For the Rocketman – the smallest MINI concept ever made – the smart choice would be to make it an electric vehicle. Thanks to its compact size and zero emissions, the Rocketman would be the ideal city car for many customers around the world. Furthermore, it could use the technology developed by the BMW i sub-brand and some of the latest battery technology to give the Rocketman enough range for daily driving.
“It was something that was ahead of its time but is still inspiring. With a smaller car, it’s a bigger challenge. With Rocketman, and talking EV in the future, as the EV engine gets more portable, it’s give and take [as to whether it is possible to make such a small car],” Mahler is quoted saying. He went on to make one key, encouraging comment, saying that the Rocketman is inspiring Oxford as we speak.
As for the Superleggera – which was presented as an EV in the first place – things are even trickier. This would be, by definition, a niche product. It would rival the likes of the Mazda MX-5 only with a premium feel and price tag which would make it even harder to sell.
“[The] roadster segment is small and demand is going down, with new markets opening up. The growth is not there, so it’s always a challenge”. said Mahler. He added: “It fits perfectly into the brand, but we’re a small [on sales volume] car brand and have to be focused and know what we want to have. The Superleggera is playing a role but no decisions.”
In the meantime, on June 16th, we will be taking a look at what the MINI brand has in store for its customers June 16 when a new concept will be unveiled in London, to celebrate BMW’s centenary.