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BMW defends Mini platform sharing plan

Caption: Current rear-drive 1 Series will make way for a front-drive model based on the Mini platform in its next generation.

New models built on Mini platforms will be true to the rear-drive brand, says BMW

24 Nov 2011

BMW has defended its plan to develop a range of new small cars off the same platform as the Mini, claiming the vehicles will have very different identities.

The German car-maker is developing a number of future BMW and Mini models based on new front-drive compact platform called UKL.

It is understood UKL will underpin the next-generation 1 Series and Mini model ranges, as well as an all-new model to be positioned between the two, possibly dubbed the 0 Series.

BMW global sales and marketing chief Ian Roberston told GoAuto there would be a family of UKL vehicles and that they would hit showrooms “in the next few years”.

But Mr Robertson denied that sharing a platform with Mini would hurt the brand identity of BMW, which has long traded on the fact its models are exclusively rear-drive or all-wheel drive.

“No, because Mini also has a lot of product DNA from BMW already,” he said.

“And under the UKL platform we will produce Minis and BMWs, but very, very clearly (different).

14 center imageLeft: BMW global sales and marketing chief Ian Roberston.

“I have got Hildegard Wortmann, who is responsible for BMW product, and I have got Kay Segler, who is responsible for Mini product, and they will fight to the end to make sure the brand essence of BMW and Mini remains separate. If I have to, I will make sure it does.”

Mr Robertson said BMW is well aware of the importance of protecting its brand image, but argues BMW models can share a platform with Mini while maintaining their unique character.

He said this was crucial, “because if we lose the DNA of a Mini and a BMW in a common platform, we have lost a customer base.

“A customer for Mini and the customers for BMW are very different people. There is very little cross-shopping between the two brands.”

Mr Roberston indicated that the new BMW compacts would be available with both front and all-wheel-drive.

BMW and Mini models already share several components, but are currently built off different architectures.

The existing Mini is powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that was developed by BMW and is also used by PSA Peugeot-Citroen. This powerplant is now also used in the new BMW 1 Series hatch, which has just been released in Australia.

The latest 1 Series is built on a new rear-drive platform that is also shared with the new 3 Series launched globally this week in Barcelona. Different to the platform that underpins BMW’s larger 5 series, it features new double-wishbone suspension at the front and a multi-link system at the rear.

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