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Mini Scrambling for Capacity

Maker has high hopes for all-new Hatchback.

by on Feb.19, 2014

The new Mini Hardtop may be a little larger but it will be a getting a smaller 3-cylinder engine.

While over-capacity has been a crippling problem for many European automakers, a few are facing quite the opposite issue, largely due to strong export sales. Mini is one of the makers struggling to expand capacity as its growing line-up triggers a sharp growth in demand.

With an all-new version of its original Hardtop model coming to market, the minicar unit of BMW AG is set to add a new plant in the Netherlands, with a major share of its production capacity earmarked for export once it begins production this coming summer.

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But rather than building a plant of its own, British-based Mini will use a contract supplier in the Netherlands, VDL Nedcar, which will add 1,500 workers at its factory in Born. Production will supplement the output from the existing Mini factory in Oxford, England.


Mini to Reveal New John Cooper Works Concept in Detroit

“Technology lifted straight from the race track.”

by on Dec.17, 2013

Mini apparently has some big plans for the next-gen John Cooper Works hatchback.

Mini’s newest hot hatch will be putting in its debut appearance at the Detroit Auto Show next month – or at least a “concept” version of the next-generation John Cooper Works model based on the British marque’s all-new platform.

Sadly, Mini is holding back on much of what we’d most like to know about the new model.  Beyond reference to its “go-kart feeling,” and “technology lifted straight from the race track,” the BMW subsidiary’s press release holds back powertrain details.

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What we do learn – backed up by these images – is that the Mini JCW Concept adopts a Bright Highways Grey exterior accented with bright Chili Red details that include racing stripes and a contrasting red and white roof.  There are 18-inch alloy wheels, large air intakes replacing the standard hatchback’s fog lamps and LED headlamps.


3-Cylinders? Mini’s Just the Latest with Downsized Engine

A replacement for displacement?

by on Nov.22, 2013

The new Mini Hardtop may be a little larger but it will be a getting a smaller 3-cylinder engine.

Mini rolled into the L.A. Auto Show this week with an all-new version of its popular Hardtop model, but equally big news was the debut of two all-new engines.

And while the new Mini is getting a little more maxi – its overall length stretched by 4.5 inches – the third-generation Hardtop will now be offered with an engine smaller than ever, a new 1.5-liter three-cylinder package.

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There’s an old adage in the auto industry that, “there’s no replacement for displacement,” but while the big V-8 may remain the icon of American muscle, the reality is that motorists have been rapidly downsizing their engine choices in recent years.  Sixes have replaced eights; and now, it seems, a growing number of three-cylinder powertrains are coming to market to replace inline-fours.


Mini Reveals New Hardtop Ahead of LA Debut

A little larger, a little lighter.

by on Nov.18, 2013

Coming at you...the newly redesigned Mini Hardtop.

Like baseball, it might help  to have a scorecard to keep up with Mini, the British carmaker rapidly expanding its line-up in recent years and hinting it could soon offer a whopping 10 to 12 different models in the not-too-distant future.

But in one sense, Mini is about to go back to basics, and the Los Angeles Auto Show will this week see the roll-out of an all-new update of the brand’s flagship product line, the Mini Hardtop. Based on a new platform developed in cooperation with German parent BMW, the next-generation Hardtop won’t deliver many visual surprises but will bring to market some new engines and advanced connectivity and other high-tech systems, Mini promises.

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While the new platform is a significant update, the approach to exterior design has been much more evolutionary which, Mini suggests, “signals the more mature character of the new model, reflected in a significant optimization of such aspects as space, safety, fittings, materials and finish quality as well as sportiness and ride comfort.”


BMW Group Sets Sales Record for Third Quarter

Sales for first nine months also reach new highs.

by on Nov.06, 2013

The BMW Group reported record sales for the third quarter despite challenging times in Europe.

The BMW Group income increased 3.2% during the third quarter as its unit sales jumped more than 10% despite the challenging and volatile business conditions, prevailing across Europe.

“Reported figures for both the third quarter and the nine-month period have developed positively despite the higher level of expenditure on new technologies and a challenging market environment in Europe. We have recorded best-ever worldwide sales volume figures to date and remain within our targeted margin range for the Automotive segment,” said Norbert Reithofer, chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG.

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Based on its strong performance in the first nine months of the year, the BMW Group also reaffirmed its outlook for the current year, Reithofer said. (more…)

Mini Has Big Plans for New Small-Car Platform

British marque may soon offer as many as 10 different models.

by on Oct.14, 2013

The next Mini hatchback will debut in LA -- the Vision Concept shown here giving a hint of what's to come.

You can be small and still think big.  Just ask Mini, the British subsidiary of BMW that has, in barely a dozen years since its global re-launch gone from a small niche player with a minimal line-up of microcars to a fast-growing brand with a rapidly expanding product mix.

And the line-up will soon grow by as much as 50%, according to the BMW board member who oversees the Mini brand, it seems. The key is the upcoming launch of an all-new Mini hatchback based on a flexible front-drive platform developed in cooperation with the marque Bavarian parent.  In fact, this new “architecture” will soon give BMW a replacement for its 1-Series, the German maker’s first front-wheel-drive offering.

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The modern-day incarnation of Mini initially debuted with just the familiar hatchback model, but after generating enough sales to take even its most optimistic executives by surprise, a variety of alternatives began pouring into dealer showrooms, including the four-seat convertible, the Mini Open, a roadster, the five-door Countryman crossover and, all told, a total of seven different models now vying for space in the maker’s showrooms.

But get ready for Mini generation three, which will debut at the upcoming LA Auto Show. “With the new ULK architecture, we currently have in mind eight to 10 models,” BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer tells Automotive News Europe.


Mini Vision Concept Offers Hint of Next Hatchback

Big changes in a little car.

by on Jul.26, 2013

The Mini Vision concept adopts a "futur-focused aesthetic," suggests the brand's chief designer.

Wondering what the next-generation Mini might look like? The British maker is offering a glimpse of what’s to come with the new Mini Vision concept.

The retro-futuristic prototype was unveiled by Anders Warming, head of Mini Design, at the Mini Design@Home event  in Munich. And it brings together a mix of forward-looking styling cues as well as details we’ve seen from such recent models as the Countryman’s canted roof and oversized taillamps, as well as new, more sculpted door panels.

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Some of the details, such as the familiar Mini hexagonal grille and inset bumpers have been captured in recent months by spy photographs of what is expected to be the replacement for the next-generation Mini hatchback due to reach market in 2014.

During his presentation, Warming described the Vision concept as a “future-focused aesthethic,” pointing to such updates of familiar details as the elliptical front headlights which, on the Vision concept migrate to LED lamps and adopt outer rings that remain constantly lit to serve as daytime running lamps.


Mini Might Add Three More Models

Little Rocketman is one option, though British brand could get bigger options, too, execs hint.

by on Feb.05, 2013

Mini may yet bring the Rocketman to production.

With the new Paceman coming onboard, Mini will now offer a total of seven different models – never mind all the variants it is delivering to showrooms around the world. But the maker is far from done as it fleshes out its line-up, company officials say.

If anything, “Our management has said that in the future a full line-up of vehicles for the brand could be 10 models,” suggested David Duncan, Mini USA’s sales director, during a conversation in Puerto Rico, where the Paceman is getting its first media drive.

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Exactly what’s in store, Duncan and other Mini team members weren’t ready to discuss – beyond hinting they’re looking to fill “any segment that makes sense for a small car.”

In fact, small is apparently a relative term for the British maker, a subsidiary of Germany’s BMW.  Mini delivered a shock to many traditionalists when it introduced the Countryman, a couple years back, not only the first four-door model and the first with all-wheel-drive but also the brand’s biggest offering ever.


Closer Look: Mini Paceman

A 3-door “go kart”?

by on Sep.14, 2012

A first official look at the production Mini Paceman - which will formally debut in Paris this month.

We thought we’d have to wait for its official debut, scheduled for the end of the month at the Paris Motor Show, but Mini is weighing in with a new image and a lot more detail about the all-new Paceman model it has dubbed its first Sports Activity Coupe.

The Paceman is, as the name implies, a three-door spin-off of the Countryman, itself Mini’s first all-wheel-drive offering and its biggest model ever.  Long-rumored and initially denied, the British maker finally confirmed the production model during its “Mini Takes the States Tour” earlier this summer.

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The overall look won’t come as a surprise to those familiar with Mini and, in particular, the Countryman.  But it’s more than just a coupe version.  The doors are stretched, of course, but the helmet-like roof now has a downward slope that is reminiscent of the smaller Mini Coupe. Perhaps the most distinctive design feature is the use of horizontal taillights for the first time by the brand.


Mini Me? British Maker Downsizes for the Olympics

Four-wheels and one javelin.

by on Aug.09, 2012

"I'll call him 'Mini-Me.'"

They are some of the oldest sports in the Olympics, dating back to the days of the ancient Greeks, but even events like the javelin, discus and hammer throws are getting a modern update with the help of British automaker Mini.

Call it Mini Me, perhaps, but the BMW subsidiary has come up with an even more downsized version of its familiar microcars that save valuable time during competition by bringing javelins, hammers and shots back from the field to the throwing area.

There are, in fact, three Mini Minis, each a quarter the size of a real car.  They’re battery-powered and remote controlled.  They’re being put to the test during nine days of Olympic competition that will be followed by another nine days in the Paralympics.

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“The MINI team was thrilled to be given this challenge to develop a vehicle with such an important and high profile role during the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” commented Dr Juergen Hedrich, Managing Director of MINI Plant Oxford. “I know that everybody was inspired by the challenge and the knowledge that these models will be seen in action by millions of people around the world.”