Joining a convertible model, the Superleggera, a two-seat sports car concept first shown in October, is “an extremely interesting” option for a fifth model, Schwarzenbauer told reporters in Berlin. No final decision on rounding out Mini’s lineup has been made, he said.
BMW re-introduced Mini -- a 1960s-era British icon -- as an upscale small-car brand in 2001 to target increasing numbers of well-off urban consumers. BMW then rolled out derivatives by making minor alterations, such as with the quirky coupe, which was essentially the hatchback with a sloping roof and without rear seats.
Mini sold 302,200 cars in 2014, roughly steady with demand the previous two years, even though the hatchback was overhauled in 2013. Its trademark model and the Countryman accounted for nearly 80 percent of that demand.
Boosted by a new five-door variant of the hatchback and the revamped Clubman, sales are expected to reach a record this year, Schwarzenbauer said.
Still, with competition from stylish mass-market compacts increasing, Mini needed to offer more to justify its higher price tag. The Mini Hardtop, as the basic model is known in the U.S., starts at $20,700, compared with $16,845 for the Fiat 500. That made the slow-selling niche models expendable, as they didn’t justify the investment required to make them stand out.
BMW didn’t say when the three models would cease production. But at least in Germany, the two-seat coupe and open-top roadster no longer appear on its website.
“Some models haven’t worked,” said IHS’s Urquhart. “And the Paceman is the answer to a question that no buyer asked.”