Tuesday, 4 December 2007

MINI Colorado to be built in Austria

Didn't expect to return to this subject so soon, but the online edition of the Financial Times Deutschland reports today that BMW will use Magna in Austria to build the new SUV model in the MINI range, the car that is often referred to in press reports as the Colorado (not sure if that is an internal project code or whether it really will be called that once it is on the market).

The FTD looks at this very much from a German perspective, and focuses on the dire consequences for Karmann of failing to win this contract. The possibility of UK assembly isn't even mentioned - I suppose the factory in Oxford is bursting at the seams already.

Anyway, apparently, the Colorado is due to be launched in 2010 and sell at a rate of about 40,000 per year. From memory, I think BMW is in the process of ramping Oxford MINI production up from something like 240,000 to 280,000 per year, so most MINIs will still be British.

I wonder whether a MINI SUV will really work. So far, everything that BMW has done with the MINI has been a success, so I suppose you'd have to bet on the Colorado being a hit as well. On the other hand off-roading and 4x4 aren't really part of the MINI tradition, and BMW always seems a bit timid about doing anything that isn't a reinterpretation of some past Mini theme - you only have to look at the interior of the MINI to see that.

Incidentally, Karmann and Magna were both mentioned as possible suppliers to Aston Martin for the four-door Rapide; it's even more important for Karmann to secure that work now.

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