LONDON - Selected BMW dealers will sell the new Mini in most of the world after it is launched early next decade.
The Mini has been a product of the Rover Group, but Rover dealers will sell it exclusively only in the UK and Ireland. In Japan, both Rover and BMW dealers will handle the car. BMW dealers in continental Europe and North America will handle the Mini.
The Mini will be sold in separate sales areas within selected dealerships. Many franchise issues have not been resolved. No advertising or marketing executives have been appointed. Nick Stephenson, Rover design and engineering director, is the executive in charge of the Mini project.
A Rover spokesman said Rover dealers in Europe will see the commercial sense of the decision.
'We are building a new executive Rover,' said the spokesman, 'and after it is unveiled in October at Birmingham, it should keep all Rover dealers busy.'
BMW Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder said the strategy would achieve the best market coverage.
'This approach also supports the investment we are making in the UK,' said Pischetsrieder. 'In addition, it demonstrates the BMW group's flexibility in terms of product development, production and marketing.'
The new Mini is the direct successor to the 39-year-old original. It will be slightly larger and will be more advanced in terms of technology and safety.
At today's prices, it will cost about $18,300.