MINI is the latest to join the growing list of car companies eager to discuss the future of their model lineups. While MINI has for many years limited its offerings to just the MINI Cooper, the MINI Cooper convertible, and the Cooper-based MINI Clubman wagon, the company has decided to look toward product innovation in order to help revive flagging sales. According to a report in Automotive News, after several years of impressive bottom lines MINI hopes that becoming a more fully-featured brand will help it regain its once unassailable reputation for profitability and growth.
MINI's current lineup will receive some attention within the next few months, with the MINI Cooper set to benefit from a modest restyling effort before it is completely redesigned in 2014. The Mini Clubman will have to wait until 2012 in order to receive a fresh look, but the next generation platform underpinning each of these automobiles will be available in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive configurations - a first for the brand.
The highly anticipated MINI Countryman - a crossover vehicle based on the same chassis as the MINI Cooper - is set to become available to the public in 2011, and features a taller ride height than the MINI Clubman and a slightly more generous interior arrangement when it comes to cargo space. Joining the Countryman later in 2011 will be a new two-seat coupe, which MINI has stated will be smaller in stature than the current MINI Cooper. A convertible version of this vehicle will follow in 2012.
The final puzzle piece in MINI's upcoming lineup is the MINI E. Although thus far the BMW-owned company has remained tight-lipped as to whether the vehicle will ever see the inside of a MINI showroom, large-scale testing of the two-door continues in the United States. BMW may be forced to take the MINI E to market in order to help it meet the stricter corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) requirements that are on the horizon.
MINI may also pursue the concept of introducing an even smaller vehicle that would be positioned beneath both the MINI Cooper and the MINI coupe. Set to possibly borrow a platform from the BMW Project i initiative, which is focused on developing city cars like the BMW Megacity, the automobile would serve a very specific niche for ultra-fuel conscious efficiency fans. Possible names include the MINI Minor (a nod to the Morris Minor of years past) or the unlikely MINI Mini.