Mini's coming Clubvan is a puzzler

Mini says the Clubvan will appeal to small businesses who want to make a style statement.
Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.

DETROIT -- The Mini brand has done a successful job of slicing and dicing to create a model line.

Starting with a three-door hatchback back in 2002, the brand has added a convertible, two-passenger roadster, four-door crossover and other models.

But tooling up this new model? I don't get it.

Next up is a panel van based on the existing Clubman, called the Clubvan. The concept debuts next month at the Geneva motor show, and reports say a production version will be unveiled this year. Way, way back in its history, Mini offered a panel van.

The Clubvan has four doors and a flat load compartment in place of a rear seat. The windows are covered. A fence-like partition is positioned behind the front seat so cargo won't go flying when the driver slams on the brakes.

Judging from the photos, the Clubvan doesn't have a heck of a lot of cargo space.

So who might buy it? Mini says the concept is aimed at premium small businesses that want to make a statement.

With the limited amount of cargo space, what might the Clubvan deliver?

• A wheel of cheese?

• An accordion?

• Spider Man's suit?

• Boxes of Cuban cigars (where legal, of course).

Kind of limited, I'd say -- too small to be a meaningful delivery truck.

The only thing missing in Mini's product line is a stretched limo and a dump truck.

Maybe that's next year's surprise.