- BMW plans to introduce as many as 10 variations on its latest version of the Mini, including a next-generation Mini Countryman that may edge closer to being a small SUV.
- The most significant of the additional versions is a five-door hatchback to be unveiled in 2014.
- The five-door hatchback will be the first Mini to be built at the NEDCAR factory in the Netherlands.
OXFORD, England — BMW plans to introduce as many as 10 variations on the 2014 Mini, which rides on a new and more versatile platform architecture that will also be shared with several small BMWs.
The most significant of the additional versions is a five-door hatchback, to be unveiled in 2014. The larger Countryman and Paceman will also use this architecture.
It's likely that the next-generation five-door Countryman will edge closer toward becoming a baby SUV, a development that's likely to widen the appeal of this already successful model.
Peter Schwarzenbauer, the BMW Group board member responsible for the Mini, Roll-Royce and BMW motorcycle brands, revealed at the unveiling of the new Mini here, that "Cars with high seating positions do very well: The high seating generates stronger customer loyalty."
With the new five-door Mini hatchback doing some of the job of today's Countryman (which Schwarzenbauer already considers to be an SUV) it will make sense to shift the new Countryman in more of a sport-utility direction, especially as sales of models like this are rising.
BMW would not comment on what other new models may be added to the lineup, which so far is known to include three- and five-door hatches, the convertible, the new Clubman (likely to get two rear-hinged back doors rather than today's one), the Clubvan, the Coupe, Roadster, Countryman and Paceman.
All of these are scheduled for replacement, with the possible exception of the Coupe, which has not been much of a hit.
The five-door hatchback will be the first Mini to be built at the NEDCAR factory in the Netherlands, a now-independent factory that has previously built Mitsubishis, Smarts and Volvos. Using this factory will go some way toward alleviating the production capacity constraint faced by the brand's core British plant, which can build no more than 270,000 cars annually.
With the Austrian Steyr factory producing the bigger Countryman and Paceman, the NEDCAR plant will become the third major Mini production center.
BMW clearly believes that the potential demand is there. One in six BMW Group cars sold is now a Mini, (for the U.S., it's one in five) and with the increasing emphasis on smaller, more fuel-efficient and low-emissions models in both Europe and the U.S., the company expects that number to grow.
Edmunds says: The Mini brand has become a central plank of BMW's strategy, and its strong-selling range of premium small cars is set for expansion.