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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.”

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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…)

BMW Earnings Beat Forecast

Maker anticipates big jump in sales and earnings for full year.

by on Aug.05, 2014

BMW is counting on a wave of new products, such as this M4 Convertible, to help bolster sales and earnings for the rest of 2014.

BMW’s net earnings jumped more than 27% during the second quarter, and the German maker confirmed its earlier forecast of a big jump in sales and profits for all of 2014.

The largest of the luxury car manufacturers, BMW earned 1.77 billion Euros for the April-June period, or $2.38 billion, up from 1.39 billion Euros a year ago. The automaker sold 5.3% more vehicles through its BMW, Rolls-Royce and Mini brands, a total of 533,187 cars and crossovers.

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But revenues didn’t quite keep pace, climbing a more modest 1.8%, to 19.9 billion Euros. The strong Euro didn’t help. And BMW has been ramping up spending in a market that is demanding more high-tech features, and solutions to demands for better fuel economy and lower emissions, it said. (more…)

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.

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Jaguar, Mini Buyers Happier than Other New Car Buyers

Two brands top 2013 J.D. Power Sales Satisfaction Survey.

by on Nov.15, 2013

According to J.D. Power, Jaguar buyers were the happiest with their purchase experience this year among luxury car buyers.

Jaguar and Mini buyers are happiest with their purchase experience, according to the results of J.D. Power’s 2013 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study released today.

Jaguar ranked first among luxury buyers with a score of 740 points followed closely by Porsche (739) and Lexus (737).

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“This accolade demonstrates that our retailers continue to exceed customer expectations and are dedicated to delivering a great experience from the very beginning of the relationship,” said Jeff Curry, Brand Vice President, Jaguar North America, in a statement. (more…)

Ford Reveals New Urban Car– er, Ka Concept

How small is too small? Ford tests the waters.

by on Nov.14, 2013

Ford brings back an old name in the form of the Brazilian-designed Ka Concept.

How small is too small? That’s something Ford is trying to find out with the unveiling of its Ka concept, a microcar design developed in Brazil that it hopes will gain some traction around the world in one of the auto industry’s fastest-growing market segments.

A good bit smaller than the current Fiesta model, the Ford concept revives a name first used on one of the maker’s more eccentric offerings in the late 1990s and targets a subcompact segment estimated to reach 6.2 million sales annually by 2017.

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The Ford Ka Concept is the second recent model developed by Ford’s Brazilian studio, following the new EcoSport that is rolling into showrooms from South American to Shanghai.

“Ford has a long history in Brazil, bringing development, jobs and growth to the region,” said the maker’s Chairman Bill Ford. “As an integral part of our global growth strategy, we are committed to bringing world-class products to Brazil and to helping the region create global vehicles for the rest of the world.”

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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.

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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.

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Mini Confirms Paceman to Arrive in 2013

Seventh model in growing line-up.

by on Jul.05, 2012

The concept version of the Mini Paceman.

Just in time to mark the start of its annual “Mini Takes the States” tour, the British maker has confirmed it will put the Paceman concept into production next year.

That will bring to seven the total number of models in the Mini line-up, a significant expansion for a brand that debuted in the U.S. 10 years ago with just a single microcar.

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“You are the first to hear this, even before the press,” Mini chief executive Kay Segler as 1,000 fans turned out for the 6th annual, 3,900-mile cross-country rally. “The Mini Paceman is the official name of the brand’s seventh model, which will be launched next year in the U.S.”

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Get a new Aston Martin for under $50,000?

British maker sets price for new Cygnet.

by on Jan.21, 2011

Aston rolls out two launch models of the new Cygnet urban luxury minicar.

Is it the bargain of the decade – or a complete con?  Opinions have been running both ways about the new Aston Martin Cygnet, the maker’s first-ever mini car.

The minicar will carry a price tag of 30,995 British pounds, Aston has announced, or $49,368 at the current exchange rate.  That’s barely a fifth the starting price of the maker’s top-line DBS and only a bit more than a third as much as the “base” model in the supercar maker’s line-up, the Aston Martin Vantage.

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But will James Bond be caught driving one of the compact urban cruisers?  Maybe if he’s looking for a parking space on the crowded streets near MI6 headquarters, in London.  With its 99-horsepower, 1.3-liter engine this isn’t exactly the sort of product you expect to see 007 using to get away from the bad guys.

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