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New Mini Technology Will Spread To Small BMWs

Output Should Reach 400,000 By 2018 From Three Plants.

The all-new Mini, by BMW and launched last month at the factory in Oxford, England, doesn’t look much different from the old one, but under the skin the engineering will make a big difference to the German car maker’s small car production.

The Mini is the only front-wheel drive car in the BMW stable, but the new little car’s design is expected to be used for future small BMWs. This Mini-pioneered technology promises big economies of scale for both Mini and future BMW small cars. BMW, and other premium car makers like Mercedes and VW’s Audi, are being forced to make an ever increasing number of small cars to meet European Union regulations which demand improved fuel consumption across the range.

The Mini has been a British icon since it first appeared in 1959 with its cute looks and go cart-like handling. It was updated in 2001 by its new owners BMW. As befits a more senior version, the latest Mini is a little bit chubbier than the old one and an inch or two bigger.

The new Mini will go on sale in the U.S. and Europe in the spring of 2014.

Plant in Holland
According to LMC Automotive analyst Jonathon Poskitt, Mini produced about 310,000 cars in 2012, with 208,000 made at its British plant and the rest at a Magna Steyr plant in Austria. By 2018, LMC-Automotive expects Mini output to reach 400,000, and this will include production from another plant in Holland.

Currently there are seven Mini variants including a 4×4 and a convertible. Between eight and 10 variations are expected from the new car, including a plug-in hybrid and perhaps a battery-only vehicle. In Europe, diesel powered Minis account for around 42 per cent of sales, with none in America. BMW has said it may finally send a diesel-powered version to the U.S.

The first new Minis will be powered by a choice of three gasoline engines and one diesel. The basic Mini comes with a 132 hp, three-cylinder engine. There will be a warmer Mini Cooper and a hot Mini Cooper S, with six speed manual transmissions. An automatic version has stop-start for the first time.

As befits a car with premium pretensions, one option is a head-up display, which projects the car’s speed and satellite navigation information into the driver’s field of view. There are various computerised safety aids including radar cruise control which maintains distance from the vehicle in front, or a system which intervenes and slows the car if it senses trouble ahead, or pedestrians in the way.

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