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Oh how quickly things can change. Just last month we were teased with the thought that MINI would be producing its Rocketman Concept and now new reports are suggesting that the Rocketman has been canceled, at least for now.
The latest issue of CAR magazine features a collection of new MINIs that BMW had recently signed off on, and the smaller MINI Rocketman was not one of them. It’s widely believed now that BMW canned the Rocketman due to investment costs in making the Rocketman-sized city car to meet current regulations.
Some of the problems that would arise with the smaller MINI model include stability, handling and crash performance. The Rocketman Concept measured in at only 134.6-inches long, a full 12-inches shorter than the current Cooper hatchback. For now we’re going to have to assume that MINI has no immediate plans of developing a vehicle smaller than its Cooper model.
GALLERY: MINI Rocketman
Recently, BMW announced a partnership with Toyota to help form more eco-friendly projects, and now MINI may be getting in on some of the action. One of the options for the Rocketman is for BMW to consider utilizing Toyota’s next-generation small city car platform, which would be a cost effective method to bringing the Rocketman to market in a quick and timely fashion. Of course the other major issue is whether or not BMW can develop the Rocketman to suit the MINI brand and to ensure that the model retains classic MINI attributes.
It’ll also be interesting to see what powerplant resides in the Rocketman once it gets into production mode and whether or not that would be BMW influenced as well. A peculiar thought would be an electric drivetrain, considering Toyota’s next-generation small city car platform is being built with that in mind. MINI has already been tinkering with the MINI E electric car, so that wouldn’t be far off the mark either.
Nonetheless, things are still being discussed but we’re hoping that MINI makes a formal announcement soon regarding their production Rocketman.
GALLERY: MINI Rocketman Concept
MINI‘s Head of Design, Anders Warming, was recently reported to say that a production version of the Rocketman Concept is “on my Christmas list.” Perhaps a hint of things to come, Warming continued to praise the Rocketman Concept by saying that it’s “a clear leap forwards” and is a car to “claim the true heritage of the brand.”
Warming also spoke about the new MINI Roadster at the annual United Kingdom press dinner, stating “The Rocketman and Roadster are part of an ongoing dialogue with customers that asks, ‘What can we do with Mini?’” Heading into the future, MINI will continue to strive to be the smallest car in the segment with lightweight engineering and class-leading efficient engines.
At the end of the day however, Warming reiterated that the Cooper hatchback will remain at the center of the MINI brand name but hopefully the Rocketman Concept does become reality as it’s a great looking vehicle.
GALLERY: MINI Rocketman Concept
[Source: Inside Line]
With the positive reception given to the very compact MINI Rocketman concept at this year’s Geneva Auto Show, MINI execs have given indications that the car will be produced sometime in the near future.
“We are good at looking at history and interpreting a future for it,” MINI sales and marketing chief Kevin Robertson told Autocar, noting that most MINIs end up making it from concept to production. While the Rocketman is supposed to provide visual cues as to MINI’s future styling direction, the underlying technology behind the Rocketman will also play a significant role in the brand’s future.
“The themes in the car are not just about a smaller Mini,” said Robertson. “Lightweight construction, and new types of components will go on to Minis. The BMW i-concept will be available to all members of the group.”
But with MINI USA head Jim McDowell telling AutoGuide that no larger or smaller MINIs were slated for America outside of the current lineup, it’s possible that we won’t see the Rocketman on our roads at all.
If you’ve ever seen an original Mini (which may be unlikely if you live in North America) you might find it hard to wrap your head around just how small the car really is. The current MINI Cooper, while small by our standards, absolutely dwarfs the original car, but MINI’s new Rocketman concept should set things straight for the brand.
With a footprint that’s only slightly larger than the original Mini, the Rocketman also boasts a carbon fiber spaceframe to keep weight down, and a re-configurable interior to maximize passenger and cargo space. Unfortunately, MINI USA head Jim McDowell said that North America was unlikely to get any products that deviated from the current car’s size, so we’ll have to gaze at this one from afar – assuming it ever sees production.
Gallery: MINI Rocketman Concept
MINI‘s rumored city car, set to debut at the Geneva Auto Show, now has a name. According to reports, the more mini MINI will be called the Rocketman and will make use of parent company BMW’s carbon fiber investments to showcase an entirely carbon fiber spaceframe chassis. This should give it an incredibly low curb weight.
Sitting roughly half-way between the current Cooper hatchback and the original, it will be the same height and share the same track.
Powering the small car will be a turbo-diesel 3-cylinder engine, which is expected to arrive shortly in the next-generation version of the Cooper. In this package it is expected to deliver fuel economy as high as 80-mpg.
***UPDATE*** MINI Rocketman revealed, get full details here ***UPDATE***