Future Models - Mini 2017 Countryman
Mini Aus delays Countryman PHEV confirmation call
Coming or going?: Global execs have previously confirmed the plug-in hybrid Mini for Australia word from the local outfit is not so conclusive.
Petrol-electric Countryman faces tough questions from Mini Australia
10 March 2017
MINI Australia has delayed confirmation of its Countryman plug-in hybrid
electric vehicle (PHEV), despite global executives indicating it would be a
given for our market, but added that a decision was imminent.
Following its reveal at the Los Angeles auto show in November, BMW Group board
member Peter Schwarzenbauer told GoAuto that the battery powered Mini small SUV
is “a worldwide offer” and “we are bringing it to Australia.”
At the time, BMW Group Australia general manager of corporate communications
Lenore Fletcher further added that a final decision on its viability for our
market would be made “in the next couple of months.”
However, this week at the national media launch of the Countryman in Canberra,
Mini Australia general sales manager Tony Sesto insisted that a decision to
introduce the PHEV locally had still not been made.
“We’re very keen to introduce it to our market and one of the things that we
are doing now is looking at the business case for the PHEV (but) at this stage
we can’t confirm that it will be 100 per cent introduced into the Australian
market,” he said.
“We need to make sure that it’s viable for our dealer network, and we really
want to make sure the demand is out there from our customers for that type of
Mr Sesto further indicated that the Countryman PHEV had not yet been a primary
part of Mini Australia’s product discussions.
Asked whether the company believed there was a market for the vehicle locally,
he replied: “It’s difficult to comment (as) our energy and focus has been on
the current variants we have just launched into the marketplace.”
“Our stage two is now to investigate the PHEV to see how quick and when is the
right time to introduce that to our marketplace,” he added.
“It’s definitely a viable option for this market. We think there is a place for
the PHEV in the Australian market. For us it’s determining when is the right
time to introduce that model.”
In a view generally mirrored by the BMW Group and other German brands, Mr Sesto
further reiterated concerns around the lack of government legislation
supporting vehicles less reliant on fossil fuels that are often costlier to
produce but subsidised in the majority of first-world markets.
“We still don’t have a government which really acknowledges things like climate
change, and really supports vehicles like this where other markets do,” he
said, hinting that the vehicle may be prohibitively expensive if introduced
into the Australian market without government-led incentives.
However, with the current diesel-engined Countryman SD topping out at $51,500
plus on-road costs, and the performance JCW flagship expected later this year
for an estimated $56K, Mr Sesto revealed that even without incentives the
Countryman PHEV would not become the flagship Mini.
“It wouldn’t be the most expensive Mini in the range, but it’s really difficult
to make comment without going through a business case and having a complete
review,” he said.
Despite not arriving in Australia until the third quarter of 2017, Mr Sesto
admitted that it was “definitely” easier to confirm the performance Countryman
JCW for our market ahead of the eco-friendly Countryman PHEV.
“We actually have a very strong take-up of JCW compared to our total sales and
worldwide we’re actually one of the strongest markets for JCW,” he added.
“So there is a strong desire in our marketplace for the sub-brand for JCW. The
JCW brand will continue to grow.”
The Mini Countryman PHEV uses the same 100kW 1.5-litre three-cylinder
turbo-petrol engine found in the $39,900 entry model, but adds a 65kW rear
axle-mounted electric motor for 165kW and 385Nm total outputs.
An all-wheel drive-only proposition, it can be plugged into a household power
point to deliver 40km of electric-only driving range.