Made by the VDL Nedcar automotive manufacturing company, the second-generation MINI Countryman is heading toward a well-deserved retirement. Its direct replacement will not be made in Born, Netherlands as parent company BMW Group is moving production in-house. New teaser photos show the still-camouflaged prototype in Germany where the revamped compact crossover will be assembled beginning in late 2023. For the first time, the Countryman will spawn an all-electric version.
The Leipzig Plant will be the BMW Group’s first factory to assemble cars from both brands as the revamped Countryman will join the 1 Series, 2 Series Gran Coupe, and the 2 Series Active Tourer. At the plant located in Saxony, approximately 1,000 vehicles are assembled on a daily basis by 5,600 employees. The flat high-voltage battery pack for the EV version will be produced at the same facility.
To accommodate the electrified future of the Countryman, BMW Group will be investing more than €800 million at the Leipzig site to add eight e-component production lines by 2024. The new production area will span 150,000 square meters and will not only provide job security but also increase the workforce. BMW says over 1,000 employees will work in e-component production by next year.
MINI states the obvious by saying the 2024 Countryman will be the company’s largest model ever. The Oxford-based automaker doesn’t go into details about the vehicle’s actual size, but it should be similar to that of the mechanically related X1 (U11). BMW’s entry-level crossover is now 4.5 meters (177 inches) long, so expect a big jump for the equivalent MINI compared to the outgoing model (4.31 meters or 170 inches).
Prototypes with a quad exhaust system have already been spotted testing on public roads, suggesting MINI will have an equivalent John Cooper Works derivative of the upcoming BMW X1 M35i. Expect a turbocharged 2.0-liter gasoline engine with slightly over 300 horsepower coming from an updated B48 mill. The range topper will likely be available only with all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission.
Later in 2024, the Aceman will go into production in China as a sub-Countryman crossover offered purely with an electric drivetrain. As a refresher, MINI intends to become an EV brand by 2030.