Mini has so far been relatively unscathed by the fall out from the COVID-19 crisis. Europe remains the brand’s number one region, and here, sales fell by 35% during the first half of 2020 to 70,624 but only 26% in June.
If a strong recovery gathers momentum in EU, EFTA and/or the UK from 2021 onwards, BMW’s small car division could greatly benefit due to the models it has coming.
China may also hold some promise, thanks to a new JV. Presently, all Minis sold in the PRC are imports, but even so volume there is decent, June deliveries numbering 2,656 (-10% YoY) and 13,742 for H1 (-21%).
North America remains a tough region, US deliveries crashing by 41.5% during the March to June quarter and by 38.5% for H1. Numbers were respectively 5,288 and 10,525 units.
Will we ever see BMW return the marque to its origins by launching a model in the A segment? It would appear so as the so-called ‘Mini Minor‘, whilst not publicly confirmed for production, is said to be on the way although probably it won’t reach production until 2023.
Before being shelved in 2012, there was a project to create a small hatchback and convertible range to rival the Fiat 500: the famous Rocketman series of concepts. Nothing came of these cars due to several factors: the lack of a suitable platform, the cost of developing one and no obvious place to manufacture such a model.
BMW now has some fresh options. One would be to bring this model into Spotlight Automotive, the JV with Great Wall Motor. That venture’s production plant for electric Minis is being erected in Jiangsu province’s Zhangjiagang Economic & Technological Development Zone. Sources say that GWM’s ME platform will feature, which means the Minor or Rocketman would be an EV.
At the moment, there is only one electric Mini. The official name is Cooper SE, while the informal one is simply Mini Electric. The first deliveries took place in March. BMW markets the car as a high performance model rather than one which has its emphasis on a long range. Power transmission to the front wheels is by means of a transmission with single-stage configuration and integrated differential.
The motor produces 135 kW (184 PS) and 270 Nm while maximum range is claimed to be between 235 and 270 kilometres. Due to the way in which the 32.6 kWh T-shaped battery is positioned between the front seats and below the rear ones, there is no loss of boot space: that remains at 211 litres.
To ensure the relevant ground clearance for the high-voltage battery installed in the vehicle floor, the body is 18 millimetres higher than in the conventionally powered model. With an unladen DIN weight of 1,365 kilograms, the Cooper SE/Electric is 145 kilograms heavier than the Cooper S three-door with Steptronic transmission.
Due to BMW delaying the replacement, the existing car will be facelifted later in 2020. A Mini Electric successor is due towards the end of 2021 although it may not appear until 2022.
There is speculation that the next generation three- and five-door hatchbacks (Mini Hardtop in North America) could be amongst the models which BMW will manufacture at the Hungarian plant which it announced in July 2018. This factory is near Debrecen, the country’s second largest city, about 200 km east of Budapest. Initial capacity will be 150,000 vehicles per annum.
BMW Group will almost certainly continue to build the B segment hatchbacks in England and the convertible in The Netherlands, while there might be build in China too. However, the lack of clarity over Brexit has added another complicating factor, plus the arrival of the next generation has been delayed until late 2021 or Q1 2022. The current F56 three-door has been in production since November 2013 and it, along with the F55 five-door and F57 Convertible, should be facelifted again soon.
Mini’s only estate will have been in production for five years as of next month. A facelift for the Clubman was announced in April last year, premiering at the Shanghai motor show. In North America, the nip and tuck was new for the 2020 model year. As well as the styling changes, there were adjustments to the powertrain line-up. The JCW version gained power and now has outputs of 225 kW (306 hp) and 450 Nm.
The Clubman successor, due in 2022, moves to BMW Group’s FAAR architecture and the car itself could change body styles and become a crossover. The shift to the more modern architecture also allows the potential for all-wheel drive.
The Countryman, which remains the brand’s largest model, has just been facelifted and the engine line-up updated. There shouldn’t be too many more changes between now and 2024, which is when the next generation Countryman is due to arrive. BMW and GWM might also build this model in China and an EV would be part of those plans.
Reports for many other manufacturers’ future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.
Future platform intelligence
More detail on past, current and forthcoming models can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of GlobalData’s Automotive Intelligence Center. That includes certain Mini vehicles not reported on above.
This, the fifth of six features exploring the passenger car brands of BMW AG, follows a look at what’s ahead for the BMW brand’s cars, BMW SUVs, M division, and i EVs. The subject of the final report will be Rolls-Royce.