The BMW Group’s new modular, front- and all-wheel drive UKL platform, the name of which is an acronym for the German words ‘Unter Klasse’, is a game changer for the company, as for the first time, Mini and BMW cars will share the same underpinnings.
It also opens new opportunities for the British automaker, as Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW’s board member in charge of Mini, acknowledged during an interview with Autonews Europe and Luca Ciferri.
“With the new ULK architecture, we currently have in mind eight to 10 models,” said Schwarzenbauer when asked about the new generation Mini’s range, adding that the company is still mulling whether to offer direct replacements for the brand’s current lineup of seven models, or present new ones in terms of body styles.
According to the Mini official, the company will not expand its factories, and for the next couple of years, it will focus production on the three existing plants it operates in Oxford, the former Mitsubishi plant in The Netherlands (VDL), and with Magna Steyr in Austria.
Asked whether Mini will offer the BMW Group’s three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline and diesel engines on entry-level models alone or in performance editions as well, Schwarzenbauer replied:
“It’s very difficult to predict the mix now. I think that consumers will be very surprised, and in a positive way, by the three-cylinder’s performance, so I would expect that its share will go up quite a bit. But we still will see consumers asking for the four-cylinder engine. It would be wrong just to concentrate on the three-cylinder engine, even though it is a very attractive option”
Schwarzenbauer said Mini is considering diesels for the U.S. market and confirmed a plug-in hybrid variant, while adding that the company is still “investigating” pure-electric models for the masses.
As for the new Mini Hatch, he said that it will go on sale in both Europe and the U.S. next spring.
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