Mini (marque) is a British automotive marque, owned by BMW since 2000, and used by them for a range of small cars. The word Mini has been used in car model names since 1959, and in 1969 it became a marque in its own right when the name “Mini” replaced the separate “Austin Mini” and “Morris Mini” car model names. BMW acquired the marque in 1994 when it bought Rover Group (formerly British Leyland), which owned Mini, among other brands.
The original Mini was a line of British small cars manufactured by the British Motor Corporation, and its successors. Their models included the Morris Mini-Minor and the Austin Seven, the Countryman, Moke, 1275GT and Clubman Performance versions of these models used the name Cooper, due to a partnership with racing legend John Cooper. The original two-door Mini continued in production until 2000. Development of a successor began in 1995 and the new generation car was launched in 2001. The current Mini range includes the Hardtop/Hatch/Convertible (three-door hatchback), Clubman (estate), Countryman (five-door crossover), Coupe/Roadster and Paceman (three-door crossover based on the Countryman).
The Mini was originally a product of the British Motor Corporation, which in 1966 became part of British Motor Holdings. British Motor Holdings merged with Leyland Motors in 1968 to form British Leyland. In the 1980s, British Leyland was broken-up and in 1988 Rover Group, including Mini, was acquired by British Aerospace. In 1994, Rover Group was acquired by BMW. In 2000, Rover Group was broken up by BMW, with BMW retaining the Mini brand.
The Mini Hatch/Hardtop, Clubman, Coupe and Roadster are assembled at BMW’s Plant Oxford in Cowley, England. The Mini Convertible and Countryman are assembled at VDL Nedcar in Born (Netherlands), the Mini Hatch/Hardtop is also assembled here besides the Oxford plant. The Paceman was till 2016 assembled by Magna Steyr in Austria. A total of 301,526 Mini vehicles were sold worldwide in 2012. Mini vehicles have been active in rallying and the Mini Cooper S won the Monte Carlo Rally on three occasions, in 1964, 1965 and 1967. Mini has participated in the World Rally Championship since 2011 through the Prodrive WRC Team.
In April 2013, Peter Schwarzenbauer became new Mini marque’s managing director, succeeding Jochen Goller
The original Mini was designated ADO 15, the 15th model developed by the Austin Drawing Office. ADO 20 is the code name to the Mini Mark III. The 1961 Cooper was referred to code ADO 50.
Until 2013, all Rover and BMW era Mini models have R-series model numbers assigned to them, a legacy of the Mini’s original development within Rover Group. Future models will have an F-series model number. The following designations are known:
- R50: “Mk I” Mini One & Cooper (2001–2006)
- R52: “Mk I” Mini Convertible (2004–2008)
- R53: “Mk I” Mini Cooper S (2001–2006)
- R55: “Mk II” Mini Clubman (2007–2014)
- R56: “Mk II” Mini Hatch/Hardtop range (2006–2013)
- R57: “Mk II” Mini Convertible (2009–)
- R58: Coupé (2012–2015)
- R59: Roadster (2012–2015)
- R60: Countryman (2010–2016)
- R61: Paceman (2013–2016)
- F54: Mini Clubman (2015–)
- F56: Mini Hatch/Hardtop (2014–)
- F55: 5-door Hatch (2015–)
- F60: Countryman (2017–)
Body type summary in UK
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Development and production
Before BMW’s ownership, the traditional Mini had been made at both Cowley, Oxfordshire and Longbridge, Birmingham. In time, production was rationalised to just Longbridge and so this was where the last of the cars were made, making Longbridge the “natural home” for the new Mini prior to BMW splitting up the company. However, as a result of the change of ownership, BMW redeveloped the entire Cowley plant, demolishing much of the factory, to create a new factory and renamed this “Plant Oxford”, on the site of what was historically the Pressed Steel Company’s Cowley Body Plant and next door to what was historically the Morris factory.
Since 2006, Plant Hams Hall produces the new Mini petrol engines, Plant Oxford is responsible for the body shell production, paint and assembly, and Plant Swindon produces body pressings and sub-assemblies, creating the “Mini Production Triangle”. Mini claim that 60% of components of the Mini Mk II come from suppliers based in the UK compared to 40% for the 2001 model. The Countryman is the first modern Mini assembled outside the UK, with the contract won by Magna Steyr in Austria.
At Plant Oxford 4,000 employees, referred to as “associates”, produce up to 800 cars each day (approximately 240,000 per year). The bodyshop at Cowley holds 429 robots, assembling 425 body panels; the bodyshells are then moved to the neighbouring paint shop where paint robots apply the 14 exterior colour options and optional contrasting roof colours. Final assembly is performed at Cowley, which involves the fitting of 2,400 components to produce the numerous variants that may be ordered.
All Prince four-cylinder petrol engines for Mini and BMW are produced at the Hams Hall Plant near Birmingham, United Kingdom, which has around 800 employees. Diesel engines are manufactured by BMW’s Plant Steyr in Austria, having previously been manufactured in France and England by PSA.
Mini sub-assemblies and pressings such as doors are supplied by the plant at Swindon, where 1,000 are employed and 280 pressed parts are produced using 135 welding robots. The Swindon plant was originally Swindon Pressings Ltd, founded in 1955 by the Pressed Steel Company and became a wholly owned subsidiary of the BMW Group in May 2000.
Minis are primarily developed in the United Kingdom by BMW’s Development Division.
In 2013, assembly of the Countryman was expanded to three international locations: from April 2013 at BMW’s plant near Chennai, India, specifically for the Indian market from June 2013 at the BMW Group Malaysia Assembly Plant in Kulim, Kedah, and at the BMW Manufacturing Thailand plant in Rayong from August 2013. Since 2014 cars have also been assembled under contract by VDL Nedcar near Maastricht in Limburg.
A total of around 5.3 million of the original two-door Minis were sold, making it by far the most popular British car of all time. Thousands of these are still on the road, with the remaining pre-1980s versions being firmly established as collectors’ items.
Deliveries of Minis has ranged from 188,077 in 2006 to 232,425 in 2008. In 2009 216,538 cars were delivered, with 69.3% being Mini Hatch/Hardtop, 13.1% Convertible models and 17.6% the Clubman variant. Over 53% were the Cooper version, with 26.2% Cooper S, and the basic One 20.2%.
In 2009, the Mini was Britain’s seventh best selling car—the first time that a BMW-era Mini had appeared among the nation’s top 10 selling cars. It also was Britain’s seventh best selling car in June 2010.
Mini sales worldwide were up 22% in 2011 over 2010, with 285,000 cars delivered across the globe. In the U.S., the brand’s largest market, 57,000 were sold in 2011, a 26% increase over 2010. The next two largest markets, the United Kingdom and Germany, saw 13% and 28% sales increases over 2010, respectively.
A total of 301,526 Mini vehicles were sold worldwide in 2012. The largest national market was the United States, with 66,123 units sold, followed by the United Kingdom with 50,367. The Mini Countryman sold a total of 102,250 units in the year.
During the production of the post-2000 Mini, as a part of Mini’s viral marketing approach, purchasers of the Mini convertible were asked to sign a “contract” promising that they would drive the car with the roof open at least 90% of the time. Mini also set up a telephone hotline (in the USA: 1-888-DO NOT CLOSE) which one may call to report convertible owners who are driving with the roof up inappropriately. The automated system offers such helpful advice as how to administer a wedgie to the offender.
Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, Mini’s advertising agency, produced a video series in 2007 called Hammer & Coop, directed by Todd Phillips as part of an ad campaign for the Mini.
Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Mini’s advertising agency, produced a movie called Counterfeit Mini Coopers as part of the ad campaign.
To advertise Mini Clubman’s 2008 introduction to the Chinese market, Beijing Mini offered a Mini Rickshaw, which uses the rear half of Mini Clubman.
In New Zealand, Mini sponsored Mad Men, broadcast on Prime. Special spots were created; for the first season, these took the form of a satirical, sexist 60s-style television commercial. For the second season, the spot was a pastiche of Mad Men’s opening credits, with a silhouette figure tumbling out of an office building, landing in the driver’s seat of a Mini.
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