Coinciding with this week’s unveiling of its new, much more premium second-generation Clubman, MINI made a few additional significant announcements. One of these was confirmation of the oft-mentioned move to a lineup consisting of five core models, which will allow MINI to focus on building better, more upmarket cars that reinforce the brand’s visual identity. The new Clubman, which goes on sale early next year, as a 2016 model, is the first model developed under this new strategy.
“We will concentrate in future on five core models with strong characters,” MINI chief Peter Schwarzenbauer said at the new Clubman’s unveiling. “We will develop the brand’s visual identity—we are expanding our offering into the premium compact class, which will attract new customers and avid MINI fans.”
Schwarzenbauer didn’t say what the five core models were, though it’s possible they’ll be the Hardtop/Convertible, Clubman, Countryman, a new sports model to replace the outgoing Coupe and Roadster, and a proper minicar that could end up reviving the Minor name. It should be noted that neither the sports model nor minicar have been confirmed.
Making its current offers more premium will create space for a new entry-level model like that previewed by 2011’s Rocketman concept. After all, while modern MINIs have stretched in dimensions and weight over the years, the Rocketman concept returns to what the original Alec Issigonis-designed Mini was intended to be: a diminutive car ideal for urban environments.
In addition, MINI sees substantial growth in demand for premium compact cars, as more people choose to live in urban areas and are thus likely to downsize their vehicles. According to MINI’s own research, the premium compact segment is expected to experience 4.0 percent annual growth over the coming years and account for more than 27 percent of the total global premium passenger car market by 2020.
But beyond selling more cars, MINI is looking at other areas to expand. Another trend the brand envisages is growth in car sharing. The BMW Group already has its DriveNow car sharing service in certain cities but MINI is taking a further step. Starting in the United States in 2016, MINI will offer a new optional equipment package that enables a MINI owner to share his or her car with others.
They will be able to make their vehicle available to DriveNow when not in use. This is also an attractive feature for fleet customers, enabling optimum use of fleet vehicles. In a further step, MINI will also enable a new form of vehicle lending, dubbed Peer-To-Peer Car Sharing, for a defined circle of family and friends.