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June 2, 2003

ITALY: Local joint venture may build Mini cabriolet – paper

BMW’s new Mini cabriolet could be built in Italy by Pininfarina, Automotive News Europe suggested. The new car’s folding soft-top roof system was developed by Open Air Systems (Oasys), a joint venture between Webasto and Pininfarina that was founded two years ago. Oasys is based in Stockdorf, Germany, and Turin, Italy.

By bcusack

BMW’s new Mini cabriolet could be built in Italy by Pininfarina, Automotive News Europe suggested.

The new car’s folding soft-top roof system was developed by Open Air Systems (Oasys), a joint venture between Webasto and Pininfarina that was founded two years ago. Oasys is based in Stockdorf, Germany, and Turin, Italy.

Now Pininfarina may also take over production of the car, which offers seating space for four people thanks to its compact folding roof system.

The Mini plant in Oxford, England, is already working close to its capacity of 180,000 units a year. BMW, owner of the Mini brand, expects to sell 160,000 Minis this year. The cabriolet is due on sale in summer 2004.

Webasto already makes the roofing system for the BMW 3 series Cabriolet, ANE added.

Just-auto recalls that BMW has previously agreed to cabriolet models being built outside its own assembly plants. Some two decades ago, German firm Baur built a 3-series soft-top with BMW approval before the latter redesigned the model and moved assembly in-house.

Other car manufacturers have long ‘outsourced’ convertible derivative build to specialists. For example, General Motors’ Opel/Vauxhall Astra cabriolet is made by Italy’s Bertone. The practice is not confined to Europe, either. In the US, American Sunroof Corporation (ASC) has, we understand, in the past built Celica convertibles for Toyota.

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