There are more reasons than ever to build it.
There's been good news and bad news lately regarding BMW's Mini brand. Let's start with the good. The new Mini Electric hatchback has finally arrived, offering the brand a potential way forward as the global car market becomes less interested in small hatchbacks, even high-performance ones. Consumers want crossovers and the Mini Countryman delivers on that front. The bad news: the next-generation Mini hatchback has been put on hold due to unanswered trade issues surrounding Brexit. The current third-gen Mini Cooper lineup arrived in 2014 and the typical six-year lifecycle is about to end.
Instead, Mini will have to make do with the current generation, possibly with a few updates, for the foreseeable future. But there is, however, a potential model unlike any other Mini that could help revitalize its image. That vehicle is 2014's Mini Superleggera concept, an all-electric, mid-engined roadster about the size of a Mazda MX-5 Miata. Will it ever be built?
Australia's Motoring recently spoke with the brand's head of communications, Andreas Lampka, about this subject and he remained relatively noncommittal. Lampka reiterated a vehicle like this is totally feasible but made no specific mention of whether it'd be all-electric like the concept. "Let's see how the brand develops. Because yes, it is exciting times for Mini. We are confident we are making the right decisions and the other side you don't know what is going to be the next challenge for the brand," he said.
There's currently no affordable mid-engined EV sports car on the market and given the ideal platform layout with the battery in the dead center for a low center of gravity, a Mini production vehicle such as this seems like a no-brainer. If anything, it'd be a great image builder.
Mini's global sales were down last year by four percent. BMW M, to compare, experienced a 32 percent sales boost. Although it's not fair to directly compare Mini to BMW M, the fact remains the latter has far better branding. It stands for something.
Mini has previously expressed interest in becoming an all EV brand at some point, but doing so requires a bit more than just an electrified version of an existing model. A relatively affordable halo model launched as an EV from the get-go could be a good way to start.