Is the New MINI Mini Redundant?

Is the New MINI Mini Redundant?

And I don’t just mean the name.  The new MINI Minor (affectionately dubbed the MINI Mini) is set to be revealed as a concept car at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show, and to the untrained eye, photos of the Spiritual, an early prototype, look an awful lot like the Smart ForTwo and Toyota iQ cars recently seen buzzing in and out of freeway traffic and taking up half a parking spot.  They share the same squished-nose, bubble-car look and sport two doors, a hatchback, and slightly bulging windows (and this is cute…they only require one windshield wiper).  So what is so special about the latest offering from Mini and how is it going to edge in on Smart’s toehold on the mini-car market?

New MINI Mini

For starters, the MINI Minor is made by BMW (prototypes are being assembled at a factory in Munich, Germany as we speak).  You may recall the Morris Mini Minor Austin of the 1950s, which looked something like the MINI Coopers of today.  And while the Minor of tomorrow shares a few features, the look is altogether more sleek and modern (more round than boxy).  Yes, this is a different beast from your Grandpa’s Mini and it may just give Smart cars a run for their money.  While the appearance is certainly similar, the MINI may have several features that Smart and Toyota just can’t compete with.

At this point, most of the production details are sketchy, but let’s give in to a bit of reasoned speculation.  BMW has been working on a 3-cylinder engine concept that they originally intended for the Megacity car, a 4-seater with a carbon-fiber body set to release in 2013 (although it is now being touted as an electric car).  This could significantly reduce production costs (a savings that would be passed on to consumers).  They also reportedly scrapped plans to make the Minor a 4-seat vehicle since it would be too difficult to match the size specifications with legal safety requirements in both Europe and the United States.  A 3-seat configuration like that of Toyota’s iQ is possible, but unlikely at this point.  It seems that the whole idea, in keeping with MINI’s long-standing tradition, is to create a front-engine, front-wheel-drive vehicle that utilizes very little space for the engine while reserving the majority of available space for passengers.  Also interesting is the fact that MINI apparently plans to eschew a carbon-fiber body in favor of conventional technology, possibly for safety reasons.

Although the whole venture is still up in the air, with future production plans hazy, the ultra-compact car does seem like a good fit for the company.  Rumors circulate that the major holdup at this point is lowering production costs to the point that making a profit is viable, but with the industrious team at BMW helming the project, there’s sure to be a resolution before the Geneva Auto Show next March.  And with a name like MINI attached to the truly tiny vehicle, brand recognition might be enough to vault them past the competition.

Kyle Simpson writes for Medical Billing and Coding Schools where you can find more information about a career in medical billing and coding.

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