|Cosmopolitan new Mini visits lifestyle capitals before Paris Motor Show
Its presentation on the Parisian scene takes place some nine months before the first units to come off the all-new production lines now being installed at Oxford, Great Britain, are ready for deliveries to final customers in Europe, early next summer, at a price starting "well under the DM 30,000 barrier.
Speaking at a major photographic studio in Milan, Mini brand manager Wolfgang Vollath said that the first new model in the Mini range will reach the U.S.A. and Japan market by Spring 2002. There the new Mini should sell at the rate of 20 and 15 thousands units per year respectively.
In Milan, Mini presented a black and white (roof and wheels) Cooper with the 1.6 litre engine reported to deliver some 112 HP, with light alloy 15" wheels, external rear mirrors and roof in white and dark grey sets with plenty of bright aluminium-look finish in the four-to-five passenger compartment. Mini executives also like to stress that the Mini has "the handling of a go-kart with the highest safety of all small cars".
The entry model - that I expect to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show next March - will be equipped with the 1.4 litre engine said to deliver some 98 HP and produced in Brazil by the BMW-Chrysler joint-venture established for the production of the new four cylinder engines.
Mr. Wolfgang Vollath a young "citizen of the world" and a committed executive said that at launch time production will beat at the pace of 100,000 units per year and will subsequently move up to 200,000 units every twelve months. He added that Mini has plans "for many engines and body types" and "may be that in 10 years production of Mini cars will be of 500,000 units".
In Milan, speaking to a variety of media representatives from lifestyle, fashion and just a few motoring magazines, Vollath stressed that his brand is looking for "cosmopolitan, free-thinkers, non conformist drivers" who may own one or more "Classic" Minis to drive on week-end and drive the new Mini every day".
Mini will reach its potential new customers in many ways, through conventional dealers (mostly BMW dealers ready to invest in a new "Mini World" facility) as well as new marketing techniques, from one-to-one relationship to co-branding. Different sales and distribution channels will be used according to the markets. Mini has already reached agreements with major company from the music, fashion and high-tech industry on co-branding activities.
Also in Milan was the young, elegant and distinctive Beate Wendenburg, the Mini brand strategist who has joined BMW with experience in brand management at Smart and Mercedes-Benz. Mrs. Wendenburg said that the names of Mini partners in co-branding will be unveiled at a later stage. Asked whether the new Mini will be the star in a remake of "The Italian Job" movie she said that a decision has not been made yet and that there are difference of views to be overcome.
Beate Wendenburg drew a profile of the ideal Mini buyer and driver: very young or aged between 30 and 40 (Mini anticipate most of Mini buyers will be under 35), he or she is a modern- times trend setter, rather than a fashion victim. They are active, positive, open-minded, people, enjoying their work, often in creative professions and with a taste for design. This vision has inspired the strategy for the Mini Cooper launch and the company has ruled a well defined lifestyle background for the ideal "Mini Copper Living Room" with post-modern furniture from Bosch (refrigerator), Philips (TV set) and Italian furniture. All in lively colour.
BMW is actually investing as much, if not more, money ($269.7 to $404.6 million) in marketing than it did in the development ($ 269.7), according to the authoritative Automotive News Europe.
By Giancarlo Perini ©2000
Photos: Archivio Perini ©2000
Mini Cooper to make world debut at Paris Motor Show
|Copyright © 2000 Car Design News, Inc.||