Mini will maximize its global potential by releasing two crossovers during the 2020s, according to a recent report. The first will bolster the firm's electrification efforts, while the second will be positioned at the top of its range.
The BMW-owned company's vast heritage makes expanding its presence in the crossover segment a tricky proposition, but executives believe they've blazed a way forward. The Countryman's first high-riding sibling will be an electric model developed jointly by Mini and China-based Great Wall Motors and built in the latter's home country. BMW announced the joint venture in late 2019, though it didn't specify which vehicle(s) it would build.
Autocar learned the model, which could resurrect the Paceman nameplate, will be about as big as the current-generation X1, meaning it will slot slightly above the Countryman (pictured) in terms of size. It will arrive as a four-door soft-roader built on a platform developed through the joint venture, and it will benefit from a new generation of batteries manufactured without cobalt, an element mined in often-difficult conditions.
Mini will dig even deeper into its past to name the second crossover it's working on. Executives favor the Traveller nameplate, which was introduced in 1960 on a Morris-badged version of the Austin Mini Countryman wagon. The model will inevitably become the poster child of the company's ongoing un-Minization process, but it should play a significant role in turning around its fortunes in key markets like the United States and China.
"The Countryman is a small SUV. In the United States and China, there are certain needs. We will look at a compact SUV in the next generation. There are lots of benefits with a car like that for urban use. For me, it's a good match," said Bernd Körber, the company's boss, in an interview with the magazine.
Upsizing Mini's image will require borrowing the CLAR architecture currently found under BMW's X3, X4, X5, X6, and X7, though don't expect a jumbo-sized people-hauler masquerading as a city car. "We can stretch the interpretation of Mini always being the smallest, but I can't imagine being bigger in a segment. We need to fulfill a requirement on size," Körber stressed. It sounds like, size-wise, the Traveller may fall between the X1 and the X3.
BMW's CLAR platform will make the Traveller the first Mini equipped with a longitudinally-mounted engine, and its first rear-wheel drive production car. It's reasonable to assume all-wheel drive will be optionally available.
Autocar learned Mini's electric crossover will be manufactured on the outskirts of Shanghai, China, in a factory currently under construction. It's scheduled to build its first car in 2022, so an unveiling in late 2021 or early 2022 is likely. Whether it will be sold in the United States remains up in the air as of writing. Traveller production might not start until 2024, though there's no word on where it will be built. It's being designed with America in mind, and many of the cars it will share its underpinnings with are assembled in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
What about the Hardtop?
Mini won't sacrifice the Hardtop, its most emblematic car, as it opens the door to high-riding models. The fourth-generation hatchback it's currently developing will be a little bit smaller than the current car yet it will be at least as roomy. It will not be electric-only as earlier rumors have claimed, though the battery-powered Cooper SE will return with better powertrain technology, and replacements for the go-fast John Cooper Works and GP variants are in the pipeline. It's expected to break cover by 2022.
The lineup will again include two- and four-door versions as well as a convertible, but Körber shed no light on Mini's long-rumored standalone sports car.
You Might Also Like
- James Dyson explains why his electric car won't happen
- BlueIndy electric cars will be repurposed — or crushed
- Lordstown Motors CEO thinks company could make 600,000 vehicles a year in the future