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Mini Going Maxi with New Clubman

British maker continues growing its line-up.

by on Jun.25, 2015

Mini is rolling out a larger Clubman for 2016. The five-passenger crossover is the result of customer demand.

Mini is pushing it to the max with the launch of an all-new version of its Clubman model.

The British automaker made its splashy return to the U.S. a decade ago by offering some of the smallest cars on the market, starting with the little Cooper. But it has been growing the brand, quite literally, in recent years. Not only has it added more models, but also they all seem to be taking steroids.

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There was the Countryman, Mini’s first four-door and its first SUV. Then it relaunched the original Hardtop in notably larger form. The 2016 Mini Clubman continues this growth pattern, becoming the biggest Mini on the market, if that is not an oxymoron. (more…)

Car as Art: Automakers Redesign the Bicycle, Sofa – Even the Sandwich

Makers show their artistic side at Italian fashion event.

by on Apr.14, 2015

Ford's design team created non-automotive products based on the GT. The best designs, including this guitar, are on display at the Salone del Mobile in Italy.

It’s not unusual for car aficionados to claim that cars are art. In fact, top auto designers usually attend the world’s best design schools before they are scooped up by auto companies.

While most of the time, their creativity shows up atop four wheels, this week artists from Ford, Mazda and Mini are displaying their artistic creations at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, Italy.

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Ford designers were challenged by the maker’s creative chief, Moray Callum, to produce non-automotive projects for the show. (more…)

Mini Gives Drivers a Head-Up with New Glasses

Maker’s Augmented Vision system debuts in Shanghai.

by on Apr.14, 2015

Using see-through technology, the AR eyewear shows relevant information in the driver’s direct field of vision but without concealing other road users.

Head-up displays have been in cars for more than two decades now giving drivers a simple way to see necessary information. The technology, which was borrowed from fighter jets, is supposed to make driving safer.

The technology isn’t widely used because it just hasn’t captured the fancy of U.S. drivers in the same way other advanced options have. However, Mini is offering a new take on it that might make it more appealing with its Augmented Vision glasses.

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Instead of throwing information the windshield, the driver wears special augmented reality glasses that are connected to the car, according to the maker. Mini plans to introduce the system at the Shanghai Motor Show this week. (more…)

BMW Group Rides Record Sales to Profit Highs

Maker enjoys fifth consecutive year of best-ever results.

by on Mar.12, 2015

BMW Chairman Norbert Reithofer, shown during the launch of the BMW i3 battery-car, said the i Series cars are doing well.

The BMW Group continued to chalk up record numbers in 2014 as the company achieved new highs for sales and profits for the fifth year in succession and anticipates more of the same in 2015.

Norbert Reithofer, chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, said the new records, included new highs for sales volume, revenues and group earnings. Group revenues increased 5.7% to 80.4 billion euros, or $85.4 billion, while profit before tax reached 8.7 billion euros, or $9.2 billion, and automotive segment margin on earnings before interest and taxes rose to 9.6%.

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The figures served to underscored BMW’s position as the world’s leading premium car company, he added.

In view of its attractive model range and the market launch of 15 new models or model revisions during the course of 2015, the BMW Group expects an increase in sales volume worldwide again in 2015, he said.

“We are targeting further sales volume growth worldwide in the current year and hence a new record level for deliveries,” Reithofer said. “We continued to perform well during the past year, achieving new highs for sales volume, revenues and group earnings.”

“Tailwinds caused by high customer demand for our vehicles worldwide are driving up sales volumes. Our Strategy Number ONE, which we regularly refine as we go forward, continues to contribute to our business performance.”

In line with its strategy of achieving a balanced distribution of worldwide sales, the BMW Group recorded sales volume growth in all major sales regions. The four largest sales markets for the BMW Group last year were China, US, Germany and Great Britain.

The BMW brand retained its leading position in the premium segment in 2014 by posting a new record sales volume figure. Sales climbed by 9.5% to 1,811,719 units, driven in particular by the excellent performances of the BMW 3, 4 and 5 Series and the BMW X5, each of which led the world market in its own segment.

Rolls Royce also had a record year, posting sales of more than 4,000 units for the first time, but Mini sales dropped 1% in 2014 as it prepared more model changes.

(BMW introduces new 2-Series…minivan. For more, Click Here.)

Reithofer also said BMW i electric vehicles are on the road to success, recording a total sales volume of 17,793 units in the year under report. Worldwide sales of the BMW i3 totaled 16,052 units, a large proportion of which arose during the second half of the year, following the model’s launch in various major markets, including the US. The BMW i8 achieved sales of 1,741 units since its market launch in summer 2014.

(Click Here for details about Mini’s new upscale model: the Countryman Park Lane.)

Overall, the revenues of the BMW group grew by 5.7% in 2014 and EBIT rose by 14.3% to 9.2 million euros thanks primarily to sales volume growth and a high-value model mix. Group profit before tax (increased by 10.3% and net income improved, also a new record high for the BMW Group.

(To see more about VW’s annual results and expectations for 2015, Click Here.)

Sales surpassed the 2-million mark for the first time in the BMW Group’s history, climbing by 7.9% to a total of 2,117,965 units.

Mini Goes Upscale with Countryman Park Lane

Brand hopes new entry will propel it to best sales year ever.

by on Mar.04, 2015

Mini's new Countryman Park Lane is an upscale, luxury version of the car. Mini officials are expecting a best-ever sales year.

Mini gets the most bang for its buck by offering variants of its cars, such as its John Cooper Works model. Instead of going for speed with its newest special edition, Mini went upscale with the Countryman Park Lane.

The compact luxury segment is booming and the Countryman Park Lane ensures it isn’t missing out on the trend. In fact, making it sure it was able to jump on the luxury compact wave is one reason why David Duncan, vice president Mini of the Americas, told TheDetroitBureau.com at the Detroit Auto Show he expected 2015 to be a banner sales year.

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“I would expect 2015 would be our best year ever in the U.S.,” he said. The company’s sales were down 16% in 2014, but that was due, in some measure, to limited availability to some models, Duncan added. (more…)

BMW Moves To Block Hackers

Security flaw offered access to doors on 2.2 million BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce cars.

by on Feb.02, 2015

BMW's ConnectedDrive system offerred access to hackers looking to break into a vehicle.

BMW says it has fixed a security flaw that could have given hackers the ability to remotely unlock the doors of 2.2 million vehicles sold by the BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands.

The announcement underscores growing concern that thieves and hackers could gain access to vehicles through the fast-growing array of onboard infotainment and safety systems that have become common on today’s vehicles.

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In the case of the German luxury maker, the problem was linked to BMW’s ConnectedDrive system which relies on onboard SIM cards to identify authorized users. The technology can be used, among other things, to allow a vehicle’s doors to be unlocked remotely. But it also is used to transmit real-time traffic information and other data.

(more…)

Mini Goes to the Max with New JCW Hardtop

"Derived directly from motor racing."

by on Dec.11, 2014

The new Mini Hardtop gets the JCW treatment with the maker's most powerful engine ever.

True Mini fans covet the brand’s wild side, and if these initial shots are any indication, they’re not likely to be disappointed by the new John Cooper Works Hardtop the British marque plans to officially unveil at the North American International Auto Show barely a month from now.

The three-door, not surprisingly, picks up on the basic design cues of the standard-issue Cooper S Hardtop which Mini re-launched last year, with added side intakes designed to let the new TwinPower Turbo breathe easy. At 228 horsepower, it carves about a third of a second off the 0 to 60 launch time of the previous generation JCW Hardtop.

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The maker also claims a significant improvement in handling, declaring that, “Technology for the engine, suspension, body and interior have been derived directly from motor racing and define the exclusive performance-oriented character of the new Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop.”

(more…)

Mini Paring Back Line-Up

British marque dropping three models, according to top exec.

by on Dec.01, 2014

Mini chief Peter Schwarzenbauer at the L.A. Auto Show debut of the CitySurfer and Superleggera concepts.

For such a little car, Mini has grown a big line-up since its 2002 return to the U.S. market. But the British brand may be ready to pare back its line-up to a more rational mix of models, according to a senior executive.

From its smallest three-door to the big five-door Countryman crossover, Mini now offers eight different models, and there were hints still more were on the way. But Peter Schwarzenbauer, the former Porsche chief who now serves as the BMW Board member overseeing Mini, wants to cut that count down to five “superhero” models.

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“Like a superhero, each of these cars has its own personality and unique capabilities,” Schwarzenbauer declared during an event near BMW’s Munich headquarters. “It is important to find the right balance between growth, on the one hand, and profitability, on the other.”

(more…)

Mini Goes CitySurfing

Fold-up electric scooter aims to address challenge of crowded urban streets.

by on Nov.19, 2014

Mini's new CitySurfer concept is a kick scooter with an electric drive motor on it.

“Let’s go surfing now, everybody’s learning how…”

And that includes the folks at Mini who apparently have taken the classic Beach Boys tune to heart with the unveiling of their little CitySurfer Concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

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Even by Mini standards, the CitySurfer is small, and you measure its performance in manpower, as well as horsepower. The maker dryly suggests the two-wheeler “presents an innovative concept providing increased flexibility for individual mobility in conurbation areas.” In lay terms, it’s a kick scooter with a back-up electric drive. (more…)

Mini Latest to Admit Mislabeling MPG

EPA to revise testing procedures, make numbers more accurate.

by on Oct.23, 2014

The Mini Cooper's mileage numbers have gotten a downgrade from the EPA.

Mini has become the latest in a line of automakers who have had to admit they were overstating their fuel economy numbers.

The British marque’s 2014 Mini Cooper actually gets anywhere from one to four miles per gallon less than originally claimed. The BMW subsidiary’s error follows in the tire tracks of Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Hyundai and Kia, all of which also have had to roll back their mileage claims.

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Meanwhile, many consumers groups continue to complain that they’re routinely seeing real world numbers that lag what manufacturers post on their Monroney window stickers and use in their advertising. That’s leading to stricter enforcement and likely changes to testing procedures by the Environmental Protection Agency which oversees fuel economy regulations.

(more…)