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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]
In an interview with WhatCar, BMW sales chief Ian Roberston commented that, “The Rocketman was a concept and we have no plans to take it further, but features of it will appear on future Minis.”
Chances are then that the clever doors and lightweight carbon fiber technologies will likely appear on future models. A £500 million investment was approved to produce the third generation MINI at the Oxford factory in 2013. The new models produced out of the Oxford plant will be built on a new platform named UKL and front-wheel drive BMW hatches may also be produced at the factory.
In other news, the MINI Coupe is due to arrive later this year, with a Roadster version hitting dealerships in 2012. MINI has also promised to build a Coupe version of the Countryman crossover.
[Source: What Car?]