GENEVA -- Mini sales reached an all-time high in 2015, which is good news and bad news. Records are great but the natural question is whether the BMW Group subsidiary can push volume even higher.
Mini has stopped trying to expand into an array of niches in search of new customers. Instead it has focused on offering five core models, which the British brand calls its "superheroes." Four of the models are set. The question is what Mini will offer as its fifth superhero.
Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW Group's board member in charge of Mini, knows that adding a sedan would boost volume but could hurt the small-car brand's image. Schwarzenbauer, 56, discussed Mini's options with Automotive News Europe Editor Luca Ciferri and Correspondent Christiaan Hetzner in March on the sidelines of the Geneva auto show.
Q: Is Mini considering adding a compact sedan?
A: If you look at the global industry and ask me which segment is the most interesting on a volume basis, it is clearly the compact sedan. But does a compact sedan fit the Mini brand? I don't think so.
Are you ruling it out?
I can't rule it out completely because we are running a business here, and from that point of view it's an interesting segment. But from a brand perspective, I just don't see a fit. I can't envision a sedan that could come close to something that is authentically Mini.
Did Mini prepare a number of proposals for a sedan?
It would be negligent of us not to have looked at this. But I've yet to see anything that convinces me this can be a real Mini.
Experts say offering a product that doesn't fit the brand is risky regardless of the short-term growth potential. What do you think?
I fully agree with those experts.