Mini-er MINI Possible, But it Needs a Partner

MINI is teetering on the verge of irony with its latest Cooper hardtop model growing once again, leaving open the possibility that a mini-er version of the car could take shape.

Speaking with AutoGuide at the L.A. Auto Show after the vehicle debuted, MINI product boss Pat McKenna indicated that while the Rocketman concept is officially on hold, it’s still something both he and the brand would like to see hit the market.

The problem, says McKenna, is in finding a partner to help make a business case for the car.

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MINI has a long history of forging partnerships in order to get its products to market. The first of the modern-era MINIs made use of engines co-developed with Chrysler while the current cars get their powerplants from PSA Peugeot Citroen. For the latest cars MINI has made friends within its family, co-developing a new line of three-cylinder and four-cylinder engines with BMW.

While reception for the Rocketman concept, unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, was positive, McKenna says the platform is the challenge. The new Cooper hardtop rides on what is known as the UKL architecture, underpinnings that will also be shared with BMW, though currently the brand has no platform small enough for the Rocketman.

The price of developing a new architecture solely for one model is prohibitive and so, says McKenna, “the only way it would happen would be if it was a partnership with another company.”

The Rocketman’s stagnation isn’t from a lack of trying either. Due to MINI’s “emphasis on driving performance, we haven’t found a partner chassis that has been suitable,” he says.

So is there demand for a mini-er MINI in America? According to McKenna the folks at MINI were “thrilled with the reaction to the Rocketman concept.”

“We see some potential for that car in this market,” he says, admitting the obvious that, “the rest of the world has an even higher demand.”

When asked directly if he’s like to see it added to MINI showrooms in the U.S. McKenna responded; “I would love to see it for MINI worldwide.”

GALLERY: MINI Rocketman Concept


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