Mini design chief Gert Hildebrand has ruled out the possibility of opening a design studio in Britain.
Speaking to Autocar at a Mini design event in London last night, Hilderbrand said a UK Mini design studio "wouldn't happen" as it would be too far away from Mini's engineering team.
BMW set up a Mini design studio in 2001 at its Munich headquarters in close proximity to Mini's engineering department. There have often been calls for Mini to expand its design team into Britain to help offer a more traditional perspective on Mini design, but Hilderbrand - a fan of classic Minis and British culture in general – has dashed hopes of such a facility being created.
"We wont' move away from Munich as we need to be close to engineering," he said, "and there's no engineering capability in England. I love England but it's not going to happen."
Last night's event in London included the public reveal of the firm's three scooter design concepts for the Paris motor show. Two of the trio will make it to Paris – in Mini E and British Racing Green liveries – but the London-inspired mod-era scooter was only created for the event.
Hildebrand said the scooters' main purpose was to "bring younger people to the Mini brand" and was one aspect of future urban mobility the firm was looking at. "If people buy these then they get used to the brand and can progress through the Mini range into cars," he said.
Hildebrand explained the idea of a Mini scooter had been discussed for the past six years and the firm now felt it was the right time to showcase the concepts as pressure is on manufacturers to offer future zero-emission, urban mobility solutions.
BMW Group design chief Adrian van Hooydonk told Autocar that there was a desire within the company to build the scooters and it would test public reaction to them at the Paris motor show.
"We will find a way to build them should there be enough demand," he said. "Mini has no history of scooters but Britain does - London does - and initial reaction tonight will also shape how we move the project forward. We need to have ideas going forward; Mini always needs to be small yet premium and these scooters showcase this.
"We need ideas for zero-emission future mobility; you can't go where you want to all the time even with a car."
Van Hooydonk also dismissed suggestions that the scooters could be a Mini too far. "I had an original Mini and know what the brand is about," he said. "This is not what Mini has done before but it is still a Mini for the urban environment. It's fun and emotional."