- Despite sliding sales, there’s no replacement in sight for the current Mini Cooper Hardtop.
- BMW reportedly blames cost pressures and uncertainty over Brexit for the delay.
- The move to future China-built Mini EVs is another factor.
The United Kingdom formally left the European Union late last week, and BMW is one of the companies most exposed to the risk of tariffs or other trade barriers that will be imposed between the U.K. and the EU. A report from Reuters now says that the company is delaying the next-generation Mini Hardtop as it waits for more information about Brexit.
We reached out to Mini for clarification, and a spokesman responded that “the hatch is going to stay with us, we would not speak about a delay in bringing a next generation, but we would call it an extended life cycle which was always planned.”
Mini production is split between both sides of the English Channel, with the majority of the Mini Hardtop model built in Oxford, England—but some production also taking place at the Nedcar factory near Maastricht in the Netherlands. Nedcar also makes the Mini convertible, Countryman, and the BMW X1.
But while the Mini Countryman and Clubman sit on the newer UKL2 version of the FAAR architecture which also underpins BMW’s front-wheel-drive models, the Mini Hardtop and convertible still sit on the older UKL1 platform. In 2018, BMW’s then head of production (and now CEO) Oliver Zipse told Car and Driver that the Mini Hardtop was one of the few models that would not be rapidly switched to FAAR.
Reuters quoted company spokesman Maximilian Schoeberl as saying this is for “cost reasons and because of Brexit.” With the Hardtop already one of the older members of its segment, and Mini sales slipping around the world, that isn’t good news for the brand’s entry-level model. In the U.S., the brand has been suffering particularly badly, falling 17 percent to just 36,092 vehicles sold in 2019.
Many Future Mini Products Will Be Coming from China
BMW has already created a joint venture with Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor to build a factory in China that will produce an all-electric Mini. The company previously told C/D that this model will sit on an all-new platform. This new factory in Zhangjiagang is scheduled to open in 2022, and will be able to produce up to 160,000 cars a year.
The recently launched Oxford-built, all-electric Mini Cooper SE, meanwhile, is a development of the current car. Its arrival now further confirms that there are several years left for the existing F56-generation Cooper Hardtop.
Beyond Mini, expect other stories of automakers wrestling with the implications of Brexit in the coming months.