(Changes "coupe" to "roadster" in second paragraph)
By Costas Pitas
OXFORD, England, Sept 9 An electric version of
the Mini that will move the classic British car further away
from its original design will have to wait at least six months
for a possible green light, a BMW board member said on
The new car, known as the Superleggera, was on show last
week in Britain. It is a two-door roadster, longer and sleeker
than the traditional compact Mini.
Peter Schwarzenbauer, who sits on the BMW board and is
responsible for the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, said a decision
on whether to build the model, which would be Mini's eighth
variant, was some months away.
"To really investigate seriously ... you look into several
different options, you come to the question: do we produce it
ourselves, do we give it to somebody else."
"To evaluate all of this, I would say six months at least,"
he told Reuters at the company's Cowley Oxford plant.
The Mini has undergone several reincarnations and changed
ownership since it first came on the scene in 1959. The brand
was relaunched in 2001 under BMW's ownership at the Cowley
plant, which has just produced its 3 millionth Mini.
BMW produced 303,177 Minis in 2013 at sites in Oxford,
southern England, the Netherlands and Graz in Austria.
The German carmaker is looking at whether to expand or
shrink its current line-up of seven Mini models as part of a
potential brand shake-up.
The two main possibilities, according to Schwarzenbauer,
include increasing the number of variants to 10 or reducing to
five, which he said he slightly leaned towards, although he said
that no decision had yet been taken.
He said even if the total number of models were reduced to
focus on strong distinctive brands or "superheroes", there could
still be new models.
"I think, slightly on the emotional side, that concentrating
on five superheroes has a great appeal to me," he said,
declining to specify which of the current models could be
In 2013, Mini produced 58 percent of its current range of
seven models - which include the Mini Hatch convertible,
Roadster, Coupé and Paceman SUV- at its Oxford plant but
Schwarzenbauer said the percentage would rise "dramatically" by
Although Oxford would continue to build the majority of
Minis he said that small-scale assembly of Mini cars could be
expanded in emerging markets.
"We are assembling a little bit in India," he said.
"Brazil, in Cote d'Ivoire where we have a BMW factory...
that could be an option ... for one model."
But he ruled out the possibility of Minis being built in the
United States - the brand's biggest market - or China, the
automaker's fourth largest.
(Reporting By Costas Pitas. Editing by Jane Merriman)