The Mini brand is about to enter a new era. Unlike now, future Minis will be underpinned by parent BMW's new UKL (an acronym for the German words Unter Klasse) front-wheel-drive architecture, which will be shared with entry-level BMWs. Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW's board member in charge of Mini, shared his view on the brand's future with Automotive News Europe Editor Luca Ciferri.
How many Mini variants will there be in the future?
With the new ULK architecture, we currently have in mind eight to 10 models.
Will all seven current Mini derivatives be replaced and do you have some fresh ideas for future Mini buyers?
Both options are possible right now.
BMW plans Mini production at the former Mitsubishi plant in the Netherlands now owned by Dutch contract manufacturer VDL. Which cars will be built there?
It is not decided yet in detail but it's basically additional capacity for us when we meet capacity restrictions at the main Mini plant in Oxford, England.
Will VDL begin with the third-generation Mini hatch?
This is one option.
Will it be a full-service production plant or assemble knockdown kits?
Complete production with press shop, body-in-white, paint shop and assembly. The engines will be made elsewhere, as happens with many plants.
What will Mini's total capacity be, including Oxford, VDL and contract manufacturing by Magna Steyr?
If I told you that I would be revealing exactly what our growth plans are. What I can say is that last year we produced and sold 300,000 units and right now we are expanding that capacity.
BMW and Mini models will be built on the same ULK architecture, so you now have the opportunity to build Minis in BMW plants in countries where sales volumes do not have to justify local production, such as the U.S., China and Latin America. Is that something you intend to do?
For the next couple of years we will focus on the three Mini factories we currently have [Oxford, VDL and Magna Steyr].