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Mini set for expansion as it goes electric: report

Charging: Mini reportedly has some big plans for the next 10 years or so, including a people carrier…

Return of a super-mini, bigger Countryman and even an MPV on cards for Mini

12 Apr 2021

MINI is about to undergo its biggest shakeup since its BMW-facilitated relaunch as it transitions into a dedicated EV brand by 2030, a process which will reportedly bring a drastic overhaul and expansion of its line-up.


According to a report by British outlet Autocar, the iconic small car and compact SUV-maker will be making a shock return to the micro segment as well upsizing its Countryman and possibly even launching a BEV people carrier.


Expected to measure just 3.5 metres long, the new super-mini will be the smallest model offered by the brand since its relaunch at the turn of the century, undercutting the Mini One nose-to-tail by around 130mm.


Reportedly going in the other direction meanwhile will be the next-generation Countryman compact SUV, which Autocar suggests will measure “at least 4.5m long”, pushing the compact SUV squarely into the premium mid-sized segment where it will come up against EV heavyweights like the Audi E-Tron and Volkswagen ID.4.


Sharing similar dimensions to the Countryman, Mini’s foray into the world of people carriers is expected to be dubbed the Traveller, a vehicle previewed by last year’s Urbanaut concept.


If it comes to fruition, the Traveller could serve as an in-house alternative or replacement to the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, a model that was killed off locally last decade – the 2 Series Active Tourer is still offered in Europe.


It could also spawn an all-electric commercial derivative, giving Mini a foothold in the small and admittedly niche electric compact van market – an Kangoo ZE and eventual Caddy EV rival.


The existing three and five-door Hatch, Convertible and Clubman will all be replaced by new electric versions which, according to Mini design chief Oliver Heilmer, will usher in a totally new design language.


Inspired by the Minis of old, Mr Heilmer said the simplicity of the early models had been lost over the past two decades and that one of the priorities with the Mk IV is to shorten the front overhang, a feat that will be made possible by the compact nature of the electric powertrains.


“We are always reflecting on the 1959 Mini… We look at what’s ornamental and what we could take out,” he said.


“The footprint is most crucial with the hatch.


“Size is less of a problem with the other models. I want each model to be the smallest in the segment, or visually the smallest.


“But small may not be helpful for sales.”


All of the models mentioned thus far as well as another as-yet-undetailed model in development will be underpinned by an all-new modular platform being developed by BMW for its future front-wheel-drive internal combustion, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles.


Following in the wake of the one-off JCW Mini Electric created as a bespoke Formula E safety car, Autocar is also reporting that BMW insiders have revealed a toned-down production version will be launched late this year or in early 2021 as one of the last hurrahs of the current generation.


Once again looking to the past, the brand is expected to revive its iconic Minor nameplate almost imminently with another electric model aimed at the Chinese market recently spied undergoing winter testing.


The Minor will reportedly be the first model to emerge from BMW and Great Wall’s ‘Spotlight’ alliance with production also set to take place in China in the hope of boosting the brand’s model presence there – the Minor will also be offered globally.


Local Mini sales were up 16.9 per cent year-on-year last quarter with 828 new vehicles being delivered compared to the 708 shifted between January and March last year.

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