21st Sep 2018 7:00 am
BMW may partner with Chinese carmaker Great Wall to develop the new architecture.
BMW is radically rethinking future product plans for its Mini brand and – as understood by our sister publication, Autocar UK – has pushed back plans for a new fourth-generation Mini and any new model, which will now not appear before 2023. Even the major makeover scheduled for today’s Mini range in late 2019 might be canned as part of BMW’s comprehensive planning overhaul.
BMW could partner with Great Wall to create Mini’s next model range. One plan for the Oxford-based brand would see BMW and Chinese car maker Great Wall teaming up to engineer a new small front-wheel-drive platform, which would be used for an all-new range of Minis to be launched from 2023.
The dislocation of the Mini brand comes after BMW’s decision to shift production to just two platforms for all of its future models, dubbed FAAR for front-wheel-drive cars and CLAR for rear-wheel-drive ones. The FAAR architecture is too big to underpin future Mini models, and it is more expensive to engineer and produce than today’s rather simpler, front-wheel-drive UKL platform, which underpins the Mini family and BMW models like the 2-series Active Tourer and X1.
When BMW begins the shift to the FAAR platform from 2021, production of the UKL platform will be phased out. This explains BMW’s attempts to broker a deal with another carmaker to engineer a new platform that is modern and safe but less complex and expensive to produce.
A deal with Great Wall looks promising because BMW and the Chinese carmaker have already formed a 50/50 joint venture. Called Spotlight Automotive, it will produce an electric version of today’s Mini in China.
If the new BMW-Great Wall platform project goes ahead, there’s unlikely to be a cabriolet and the three-door body style could also be dropped. Expect a compact five-door hatch and new Clubman and Countryman models that will be less bulky and rather more lithe than today’s cars.