MINI Rocketman Concept
We know that the Mini lineup will expand into several sizes,
Now an executive at BMW (which owns the iconic British brand) has said there may be as many as 10 different Mini models in future.
The Mini lineup for 2011 already includes four models: There's the Mini Cooper three-door hatchback and convertible, the Clubman wagon, and the new Countryman all-wheel-drive crossover utility vehicle.
2012 MINI Cooper Coupe official spy shots
Coming up next are new two-seater Minis, in both Coupe and Roadster models.
Last week, Mini released "factory spy shots" of a lightly camouflaged Mini Coupe under testing. It will go on sale late this year in the U.K. and next year in the U.S.
Then there will also be a coupe version of the Countryman crossover, previewed by the Paceman concept at this year's Detroit Auto Show.
That brings us to seven. But Norbert Reithofer, head of the BMW Group, said he could "imagine 10 Minis" in the near future.
2011 MINI Paceman concept
He spoke at a ceremony marking BMW's investment of £500 million ($815 million) in its Oxford, England, factory.
That plant will produce the next-generation Mini, which will share its 'UKL' platform with a new, smaller BMW line--the German marque's first-ever front-wheel-drive model.
An even 'minier' Mini
So what else could be coming?
Another possible model might be a new 'minier Mini' based on the Rocketman concept. That car's mission was to reinvent the Mini in a size closer to the original 1959 Morris Mini-Minor, which was precisely 10 feet long from bumper to bumper.
The Rocketman concept is actually 11'3" long, but it has rather more safety equipment designed into it. Its three-cylinder 1-liter engine is also likely to produce roughly triple the power of the 1959 car's 34 horsepower, produced by a sturdy little 848cc engine that dated back to 1951.
MINI Rocketman Concept
The 'minier Mini' would likely share some of the engineering or even the platform of the BMW i3 carbon-fiber electric urban car, which is to be unveiled this fall at the Frankfurt Motor Show and go on sale in 2013.
That means there might also be a factory-built electric Mini, either using the next-generation Mini or the smaller 'minier Mini' platform.
All about the MPGs
Despite some of its unusual driving characteristics, response to the all-electric Mini E test fleet has been very good, and a new electric Mini would certainly help boost BMW's gas mileage figures.
And in the end, that's what this is all about. Current corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) rules that require 34 mpg by 2016 mean the BMW Group (which includes Mini, BMW, and Rolls Royce) has to sell more high-mileage cars to offset its large, luxurious, and profitable luxury sedans and crossovers.
Future CAFE rules will be stiffer yet, potentially going as high as 62 mpg by 2025. Which may mean even more multiplying Mini models.
Oh, and that tenth Mini? No idea. But we'll let you know whatever we hear.