Report: BMW, Toyota May Develop Mini Based on Rocketman Concept

Jan 31, 2015 10:00 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma

BMW and Toyota could be collaborating on a new Mini vehicle platform: an entry-level Mini model called the Mini Minor that Toyota may re-badge as the Starlet.

The two automakers have been working together since 2011 on projects including diesel engines; fuel cell and battery technology; and sports car architecture.

The Minor would be 11 feet and 4 inches long if based on the Mini Rocketman concept car featured at the Geneva auto show in 2011. At that size, it would be 14.5 inches shorter than Mini's flagship three-door hatchback model.

It is also expected to be less expensive than Mini's core model at 13,500 euros, or $15,300, which would be $4,500 less than the hatch. Whether or not the new Mini will be available in the United States is unclear.

The report surfaced in the German car magazine Autobild, according to Automotive News. A Mini spokesman has dismissed it as "mere speculation."

Mini wants to become profitable and has been reworking its lineup; reports earlier this month said that the Mini Paceman, Roadster and Coupe would likely be cut due to weak sales.

"BMW has struggled to make Mini into a profit center from the beginning," Max Warburton, an auto analyst with Bernstein Research, told Automotive News. The brand's complex lineup is "hardly a recipe for making money, at least compared to some of their BMW-branded products," he said.  

According to the Autobild report, BMW will likely add an electric version of the Mini Minor sometime after the model launches in 2018 or 2019.

Mini's confirmed upcoming lineup will include the top-selling Cooper hatchback as well as an all-new Mini Clubman wagon, a four-door model that will be about a foot longer than the smallest Mini offering. A redesigned Countryman is slated for 2016.

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