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Mini May Add as Many as Three New Models for ’11

R60 CUV a definite, but Coupe and Roadster may follow.

by on Dec.09, 2009

Could Mini launch production of the Coupe and Roadster concept vehicles next year? A CUV is definitely in the pipeline.

Could Mini launch production of the Coupe and Roadster concept vehicles next year? A CUV is definitely in the pipeline.

Tucked into the far corner of the L.A. Auto Show sit two Mini concept cars that have been generating some serious buzz.  Now, sources say, the Mini Roadster and Mini Coupe could find their way into production in the very near future.

As TheDetroitBureau.com’s Henny Hemmes reported, last week, from Staples Center, in downtown Los Angeles, the two show cars have a decidedly more aggressive look than current Mini products, starting with their steeply raked windshields.  (Click Here for the complete story.)

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Up to the A-pillars, the Roadster is similar to that of the current Mini Convertible. The windshield, though, is 60 mm lower and raked at a sharper angle, providing the look of a ‘baseball cap’, said Ian Robertson, Mini’s sales and marketing chief.

The open-top model has the same 1.6-liter engine with twin-scroll turbocharger as the Cooper S, which delivers 175 hp, and torque of 177 lb-ft. that jumps to 192 lb-ft with the overboost function.

The Coupe would conceivably offer buyers a more stylish, yet also more practical mini-sized alternative to the smart fortwo.  And, we’re betting, it would deliver as good or better mileage.

There’s little doubt that Mini is in expansion mode.  Robertson confirmed a downsized crossover vehicle, codenamed R60, is on tap for launch during the third quarter of 2010 as an ’11 model.  Though he wouldn’t comment on the production plans for the Coupe and Roadster, sources inside the company have reportedly given the word to the Mini fan site, MotoringFile.com.

They report that, “(T)he first pre-production Coupés and Roadsters will hit the Oxford assembly line around June of 2010. These same sources are telling us that initial batches of production of both cars should start in October of 2010. Look for both products to hit UK and European dealers in the beginning of 2011. US sales should starting shortly after UK and Euro deliveries start.”

The dates seem surprisingly aggressive, especially considering these introductions would parallel the R60 launch, but Mini is unquestionably looking for ways to expand fast.  The brand is doing surprisingly well, global sales jumping a hefty 14% in November, and more product, analysts contend, is critical to keeping that momentum going.

In a separate report, the folks at MotoringFile report that Mini is looking at moving at least some production out of the brand’s headquarters plant, in Oxford, UK.  The move could not only help boost capacity but also better isolate the brand from the costly effects of a strong British Pound.

If the report is accurate, some Mini production could shift to Germany in 2011, though other industry observers feel the maker might be better off moving production to the plant owned by Mini’s parent, BMW, in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  A weak dollar would be a particular advantage for the maker.

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