Mini plans to enter the shrinking market for small MPVs with a new electric model. It will be the brand’s most practical car yet, and it’s thought it will revive the Traveller name.
It will be based on parent company BMW’s FAAR platform, which supports front- and four-wheel drive. There will be versions powered by internal combustion engines, a plug-in hybrid and, later in its seven-year life cycle, a battery-electric driveline in a Traveller SE model. It will rival the Volkswagen ID 3, which will be revealed next month.
In pure-electric form, the new Mini model is set to be twinned with the successor to the BMW i3. That means it will be offered with the very latest in battery cell technology and a range exceeding 250 miles.
Autocar understands the move is part of a comprehensive realignment of Mini’s global operations that will divide its line-up into two distinct areas. Future models will based on either the FAAR platform or a new entry-level one being developed in a joint venture with Chinese car maker Great Wall Motors.
The realignment, masterminded by recently departed BMW chairman Harald Krüger, aims to provide Mini with a less cost-intensive operational base and the scope for a broader range of models.
In future, Mini’s production activities will centre on three plants: Born in the Netherlands; Zhangjiagang, China; and Oxford, UK. Satellite operations will continue in India, Malaysia and Thailand.
As well as planning replacements for today’s hatch, Clubman and Countryman, Mini is developing two crucial new models that will arrive by the end of 2023. The aim is to increase annual sales volumes well beyond the 361,531 achieved in 2018.
One will be the long-awaited production version of the Rocketman, as previously reported by Autocar.
The entry-level Smart Forfour rival will be fully electric and based on a development of Great Wall Motors’ ME platform. It will be produced under a joint-venture operation called Spotlight Automotive, based in China.
The second approved new model, expected to be called the Traveller, will rival the likes of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class. Plans are in place for it to be developed using technology from the next BMW i3.
Described to Autocar as being very much in the mould of BMW’s 2 Series Active Tourer, the new five-seater is intended to complement existing Mini models.
Production is likely to begin in the Netherlands near the end of 2022, according to senior Mini sources.