When BMW dumped its Rover holdings earlier this year, it held onto the New Mini project. And BMW will make sure its parentage is obvious when it debuts this month at the Paris auto show: The model will be marketed as 'Mini by BMW Group.' In Europe, the New Mini will carry a starting price of $13,486 - less than previously thought, said company spokesman Mike McHale.
The Mini goes on sale next year in BMW dealerships, which will reserve portions of its showrooms for it. BMW's assembly plant in Oxford, England, is targeting an annual production of 100,000 units, which it expects to achieve in two years. Of those, 20,000 will be shipped to the United States, where sales begin in 2002. Europe will take 65,000 cars a year, the bulk scheduled for Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. An additional 15,000 will be sold in Japan, where the traditional Mini has a cult following.
'The Americans know all about the Mini, and there are Mini clubs in some states,' said McHale, who soon will move to the United States to help launch the 21st-century remake of the British legend.
Performance versions of the New Mini are planned. They will retain the traditional Cooper and Cooper S brands.
'With an eye on the motorsport scene of the early 1970s, racing is something we are looking at,' said McHale. 'The guys working on the brand in Munich and elsewhere are really excited.'