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Some Mini Models May Be on Chopping Block

Just the Facts:
  • Mini is mulling a major product shakeup and may not replace some of its models as they reach the end of their cycle, Edmunds has learned.
  • The Mini Hardtop and Countryman are the brand's core models, accounting for about 75 percent of sales, and are safe.
  • Some of the other models, though, may be on the bubble, according to Jim McDowell, vice president of Mini USA.

NEW YORK — BMW's Mini small-car division likely will shake up its lineup in the next few years after several models reach the end of their product cycle. Specifically, some current models may not be replaced.

Jim McDowell, vice president of Mini USA, told Edmunds that the Cooper Hardtop and the Cooper Countryman are the brand's core models, accounting for about 75 percent of sales. Mini sold about 66,200 vehicles last year in the United States, a record year for the brand, with those two models contributing almost 50,000 of that total.

As for the rest of the line, McDowell suggested that some models are on the bubble.

"When we start to replace models, I think you will see that we won't replace every model exactly," he said during an interview at the 2013 New York Auto Show.

"When I joined Mini, we knew that we would have two models. Ultimately, we (now) have seven. We are starting the next generation a year from now. We know that we will have a pretty broad lineup. You may actually put your chess pieces on the board differently if you know that you can have seven."

The current Mini lineup in the U.S. includes the Cooper Hardtop, Coupe, Convertible and Clubman, as well as the Roadster, Paceman and Countryman.

The next generation of Minis will share a front-wheel-drive platform BMW is developing for a range of vehicles. The first Mini on the new platform, the Hardtop, is slated to go on sale in March next year. The new front-drive platform is expected to underpin approximately a combined 11 models for Mini and BMW.

BMW's first front-drive vehicle is expected to be based on the Concept Active Tourer, a subcompact crossover. Production is expected to begin in about a year, industry sources say. That would be around the same time as the first new-generation Mini goes on sale.

Asked if the popular Rocketman concept will be turned into a production car, McDowell said "it would require some componentry that we don't currently have." Additionally, Mini's "engine and transmission are too heavy for a car that short." The concept is about 135 inches long, nearly a foot shorter than the Mini Cooper Hardtop.

"It is not to say that we won't build it, but we can't confirm any plans to build it," McDowell said. "But a lot of the features that people really liked on the Rocketman are definitely coming on the next generation of Minis."

Edmunds says: Big changes are looming for Mini.

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