MUNICH, Germany -- Mini will use a formula followed successfully by Porsche for the past 50 years: Don't tamper with an iconic design.
As Mini models are redesigned this decade and next, there will be no radical exterior changes, says Kay Segler, Mini vice president of brand management.
The Mini look will not become stale, he says.
"If someone would say that a 911 Porsche should be totally different because (its styling theme) has been around for many years, the customers would say, 'No, that is still fresh and has become part of the car's character,'" said Segler in an interview here at Mini parent BMW AG's headquarters.
Pointing to the success of Porsche and Mini, Segler said, "Some brands and some products need to do things differently."
But Segler said the Mini's interior might see major changes as the vehicle evolves over the coming years. "Maybe you could be more adventurous when it comes to the interior," he said.
The styling theme created for the Mini 45 years ago and adapted to the current car remains popular.
Segler says the proof is the brand's sales and continued demand for the car. Depending on the country, Mini customers wait two to six months for delivery. In the United States, the wait is nearly four months.
This year Mini expects to build more than 200,000 units, up from 189,492 in 2004.
When completed in 2007, modifications to the Mini assembly plant in Oxford, England, will boost capacity more than 20 percent, or about 40,000 units, Segler said. But the 150 million euro upgrade (about $175.9 million at current exchange rates) will cause Mini's overall production to decrease in 2006 compared with 2005.
In late 2005 and early 2006, Mini production will stop for more than three weeks, Segler told Automotive News sister publication Automobilwoche. There will be other reductions in output next year as the plant remodels its paint shop and modifies its assembly lines to add a third body style. The new car is a wagonlike vehicle based on the Traveller concept unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show in September. The car is due in late 2006 or early 2007.
Segler would not say when the hatchback and convertible Minis will be redesigned, but industry sources expect the second-generation three-door model to debut at the end of 2006. The new convertible is expected at the end of 2007.
The original Mini design theme, Segler says, "was dead right."
You may e-mail Rick Kranz at [email protected]