Mini product chief Ralph Mahler said the firm was looking at whether a small car “can be a possibility or not” and Mini had “nothing against” making a smaller model such as the Rocketman in the future.
The Rocketman concept was first revealed in 2011 as a tiny 3.2-metre-long ‘mini Mini’.
Bosses at the time talked up its production chances, but the lack of an available platform and the challenge of engineering such a compact model meant it was never built.
However, Mahler hinted that the rise of electric technology meant the Rocketman could make production as an electric only model, because it was easier on a car with a small footprint to package electric components than conventional ones.
“The Rocketman is inspiring us as of today, especially as an EV in the future,” he said.
“It was something that was ahead of its time but is still inspiring. With a smaller car, it’s a bigger challenge. With Rocketman, and talking EV in the future, as the EV engine gets more portable, it’s give and take [as to whether it is possible to make such a small car].”
Mini would tap into the electric technology of parent BMW’s i brand, should the Rocketman project be reborn. It could also look at the i3’s innovative structure, with running gear built into the floor to free up cabin space.
Another option would be to extend BMW’s partnership with Toyota and tap into the Japanese maker’s small car expertise through its recent full acquisition of Daihatsu.
Mahler acknowledged that the segment below the one occupied by the three-door Mini hatch was an interesting one.
“We’re smallest in segment with our three-door hatch, but there is a segment below that,” he said.
As well as the Rocketman, another concept car is influencing Mini: the Superleggera Vision from 2014.
This was a collaboration between Mini’s design team and coachbuilder Touring Superleggera and previewed Mini’s future design language on a two-seat, rear-wheeldrive roadster concept.