The United Kingdom, through referendum, has decided to break off from Europe and go it alone. But what of all the auto manufacturers that produce vehicles in the island nation? And of their employees? And trade?
We won’t know the answers to those questions until the UK and European governments sort out how the two entities will work together in the future. For now, it’s business as usual. Though, thanks to Autocar, we at least have reactions from the big players in the UK’s automotive industry.
The UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders is tasked with, according to the SMMT, promoting “the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad.”
Prior to the June 23 Brexit vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, the SMMT insisted that voting “remain” was critical to the UK automotive industry. Brexit could jeopardise jobs, automakers were in agreement that remaining was important, and pointed to the UK’s 800,000 auto industry jobs and its £15.5 billion contribution to the economy as reasons to stay in the European Union.
Mini needs a fifth core model that stays true to the brand’s heritage while drawing in more customers, but the man in charge of the brand doesn’t like sedans.
Unless a previously unknown model crawls out of Mini’s history, one side of the dilemma will have to give up ground.
Ralph Mahler, Mini’s vice-president of product development, sparked sedan rumors earlier this month when he said a conventional four-door makes good business sense, especially in the U.S. and Asia. His boss doesn’t disagree, but hates the idea.
“Clean up the place when you’re done with it, and don’t even think of offering ‘hourly rates’ while you have it. This is a respectable car.”
Mini plans to offer devices on its models that allow the owner to rent out their vehicle to other drivers, providing some cash for themselves and a Mini experience for non-owners.
Peter Schwarzenbauer, the BMW Group executive in charge of Mini, seems very excited about the technology, telling Automotive News that the system will be “kind of like Airbnb on wheels.”
Executives at Mini are busy mulling what to introduce next, and it’s increasingly looking like that model will have a trunk.
Unlike a car modeled after a young man wearing a backward ballcap, a sedan is a logical addition to the brand’s future lineup, and comments made to Autocar by Ralph Mahler, vice-president of product development, make it clear there’s a serious business case for a three-box Mini.
BMW Group is laying out its game plan for the future, and it includes a lot of new electric vehicles.
Beyond the marketing buzzwords, there’s much similarity between BMW’s plan, released yesterday, and those of so many other automakers: building high-tech convenience and connectivity into their vehicles, diversifying their electric offerings, developing autonomous driving technology, and making the customer feel extra special.
The immediate effect on BMW’s rolling stock will be an expanded “i” range of all-electric or plug-in hybrid models, starting with a convertible version of the i8 and a longer-ranged version of the i3 by the end of this year.
As the U.S. auto industry achieved record sales volume in 2015, Mini’s U.S. sales were down 12 percent compared with Mini’s peak in 2013. And despite modest year-over-year growth in 2015, the year didn’t end so well. Mini sales plunged 20 percent in the fourth quarter, and sales have now declined in four of the last five months.
Through the first two months of 2016, U.S. Mini sales are down 13 percent, a loss of nearly 900 sales, even as industry sales grew by more than 3 percent. Indeed, in February, Mini volume plunged 24 percent as overall U.S. new vehicle volume rose to the highest February level since 2001.
Yet this is not a worldwide issue. Globally, Mini sales hit a record high in 2015 and are up 4 percent in the early part of 2016. Will a U.S. rebound soon follow?
I’ve not yet had the pleasure of driving a classic Mini. Residing in Ohio, this isn’t altogether surprising, as the climate has not been kind to many older cars. Also, there’s the problem of not being able to actually fit. Someday, though, I need to give it a try.
With a production run spanning six decades, there are likely many Minis still seeing use as daily drivers in the UK. Like any other ubiquitous car, then, these are subject to the whims of the owners looking to give their rides some additional personality.
As it seems there are no Pep Boys in England, questionable modifications must come from other sources.
Like those who only read certain magazines for the articles, the Super Bowl brings millions of people together in front of TV screens to, ostensibly, watch a football game. Many will watch the event strictly for the commercials, which have become a cultural phenomenon in their own right. Others will watch for the halftime show, hoping for glimpses of nipples and/or sharks.
Car manufacturers have taken advantage of the massive number of eyeballs focused on the screen, and target them with high-priced, cinematic advertising loaded with celebrities and inspirational messages.
Check them all out … after the jump!
Imagine if we’d had the internet back in the ’60s. Ignoring all other differences that fast, easy communication would have had on a pivotal time in our history, I’m most fascinated by the important stuff, like how it would have affected the way we buy cars.
Back then, one could walk into the dealership and check various boxes on an order form, specifying the exact options desired. Want a manual transmission, big-block wagon with non-assisted drums all the way around? Sure. Under-dash record player? Absolutely. But that wasn’t efficient, and eventually we got a few option packages and some dealer-installed bits.
MINI (gotta make sure we capitalize that) is one of the few mainstream OEMs that lets us relive those checkbox glory days.
This past Sunday night, I wandered over to my local movie theater to catch Black Mass. Although I’m suffering from a bit of Joel-Edgerton-related-ennui lately and I never really got over the idea of Hey, that’s Johnny Depp in makeup, I had to admit that overall, it was a tightly plotted and thoroughly entertaining film. More importantly, it had an absolutely killer lineup of Malaise-era automobiles, including an utterly stunning ’78 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight with a white leather interior. In fact, until the moment that a 1980 Citation makes an unexpected and rather violent appearance on the scene, it’s nothing but wall-to-wall Seventies sedans. Just the way I like it.
I remember that as a child my grandparents complained about the squared-off, generic appearance of pretty much everything for sale in the post-Nixon era. I can sympathize a bit because although every car sold in the Fifties also looked just like every other car for sale, the general template of the Bel Air/Fairlane/et al was appealing and colorful and optimistic. But even if you don’t care for the ’74 Malibu Classic or the ’79 Granada, at least they had proportions that emphasized width over height. The worst of them had a certain dignity.
Not so with today’s rolling toaster ovens. We’re rapidly approaching the era where every single car for sale will be some variant on the almighty CR-V. The latest sales data from Porsche and MINI simply hammer that home, with a uniquely depressing twist.
Buick announced Wednesday that its first convertible-only model in the U.S. for 25 years will start at $34,915, including $925 destination, when it goes on sale early next year. The Cascada Premium model, which adds front and rear park assist and other safety features, will start at $37,915.
The front-wheel drive, 2+2 convertible will come standard with 20-inch wheels, remote start, backup camera, heated seats and LED headlights.
The Cascada will line up against the Audi A3 Cabriolet, which starts at $37,525, including $925 destination, and the Mini Cooper Convertible, which starts at $26,550, including $850 destination, for coveted upper middle-class divorcee money.
Mini unveiled its newest Clubman this week and the car, which is one foot longer and nearly 5 inches wider than the outgoing model, is now longer than a Jeep Wrangler.
The 14-foot-long four door will be four-inches shorter than a Mazda CX-3 and will sport the Hardtop’s duo of engines for Clubman and Clubman S models. The turbocharged I-3 will produce 134 horsepower in the Clubman, while the turbo four will bump up to 189 horsepower for the Clubman S. According to Mini, the Clubman S will sprint up to 60 mph in 7 seconds.
The Clubman is 10.9 inches longer than the 5-door Hardtop, with a 4-inch longer wheelbase and is nearly 3 inches wider. Rear passengers in the Clubman will get 2 more inches of legroom over the five-door Mini (34.3 vs. 32.3).
(And the five-door Hardtop exists, why?)