Since Peter Schwarzenbauer took over as Mini chairman in 2013, he has often spoken of his 'five superheroes' strategy for the Mini range.
His plan was to trim the fat from the bloated Mini line-up, axing the weird-looking models such as the Coupé, Roadster and Paceman, and instead focus on five core models - the superheroes - and push the brand upmarket and raise its maturity in the process. Or, in Schwarzenbauer's words, move Mini from a teenager to a young adult.
The three and five-door hatches are considered one superhero, and over the past 12 months, we've seen the second and third with the new Mini Convertible and Mini Clubman. At the LA show, we've been introduced to the fourth, the Countryman, and it was here where Schwarzenbauer at last revealed the identity of the fifth, a model subject to much speculation since he first outlined the superheroes plan.
It was not a production version of either the Superleggera or Rocketman concepts, both of which would be highly desirable but costly to develop and likely to have limited sales impact, but instead an all-electric version of an existing model.
Which makes a hell of a lot of sense. Is there a more natural candidate for electric power than a Mini? Particularly when Schwarzenbauer is promising next-generation battery technology, which should bring with it a significant increase in range over existing electric vehicles and quicker charging times.
It’s sad to hear that the production chances of the Superleggera and Rocketman have been diminished, but an electric vehicle can have a far bigger impact on a brand and bring it to far wider attention outside the motoring world that even a sports car can.
They are modern, relevant, on trend and fun to drive, all things Mini stands for, even if you disagree with the direction BMW has taken the brand. A good decision, I think.