Considering either a premium compact model or halo car

Mini is looking at a number of ways to grow its brand and among the options being considered is a premium compact sedan that would serve as the company’s fifth model. Peter Schwarzenbauer, the BMW board member in charge of Mini, told AutoNews about the company’s plans as it tries to expand the Mini lineup past its current four-car roster.

While there’s been no decision made on the matter, a more upscale compact sedan appears to be on the inside track to getting the green light. At the very least, it has a bigger chance of joining the three- and four-door Cooper Hardtop, the redesigned Clubman wagon, and the Countryman to make up Mini’s lineup moving forward. Another model, a production version of the Superleggera electric roadster concept, is also on the table but Schwarzenbauer admitted that it’s less likely to get the nod due to the possibility that it could be tagged as a low-volume, high-priced halo model. Such a model has a place in Mini’s lineup, but Schwarzenbauer explained that making a case for it from a business perspective has its own challenges.

On the other hand, a compact model would allow Mini to continue transitioning into the segment as it diversifies its model lineup with subcompact and compact vehicles. No timetable has been given on when the company is going to make a final decision, but expectations call for it to happen within the year.

In related news, Mini is also in the process of developing a plug-in hybrid model, which it plans to launch by 2018. An electric car is also on the table, although much of that car’s fate will depend on how far the company develops its own battery technology. There is a need for one considering that Mini touts itself as an urban brand and electric cars are well suited for urban cities. Just don’t expect to see one anytime soon.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

I applaud Mini for finally putting in plans to expand its lineup. I’ve been wanting the company to do so for a long time, since its current lineup is really just limited to the three- and four-door Coopers, Countryman, and Clubman. Sure, variants have popped up on some occasions, but for the most part, these four models make up the entire lineup. To make things worse, all three models are really just derivatives of one another. One might be longer or offer more cabin space, but by and large, they’re all the same.

I agree that a halo model is nice, but the timing isn’t right to have one. Mini needs to expand its lineup first before it starts thinking about launching a low-volume, high-priced model. Those cars don’t make automakers a lot of money anyway and they’re usually built as calculated gambles that their status will compensate for the lack of sales. There’s also talk of a hybrid and the electric model, but while Mini has admitted plans to build both cars, those projects aren’t going to arrive in the near future. That’s why a premium compact model makes a lot of sense.

Not only does it add a new dimension to Mini’s current model lineup, but more importantly, it has the potential of really differentiating itself from the Cooper, Clubman, and Countryman. That’s on Mini now to make sure that it presents its car in such a way that people like me won’t end looking at it and say “hey, that’s just the Cooper in another costume!”

As successful as the Clubman and Countryman have been for the brand, both models have never escaped those reactions. Mini has a chance to use a premium compact sedan to really launch itself as a brand that people will begin to look at in a different light.
Here’s to hoping that the company makes the right decision here. It doesn’t seem all that big of a deal at first glance, but it is very important decision for the company if it really wants to make a bigger dent in the market.

2016 Mini Superleggera

2016 Mini Superleggera Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Read our full review on the 2016 Mini Superleggera here.

Source: Automotive News

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