Mini launches new Roadster in time for Summer
The two seater drop-top Roadster is the sixth model range for the BMW-owned Mini range and it's British built.
It is being produced alongside the Mini Hatch, Clubman estate, Convertible and two seater Coupé on which it is based. The arrival of the new model sees the assembly plant on the outskirts of Oxford, the press shop in Swindon and the Hams Hall engine factory gain even further in importance.
Mini already ranks as the country's third-largest carmaker, and the BMW Group is investing around £500 million in the ongoing expansion and modernisation of its manufacturing facilities in Britain up to 2014.
Last year Mini's global sales were up 12 per cent to a record 285,000 units. With five of the six Mini models available built at the Oxford, the plant's production is close to the current maximum of 200,000 cars a year. With the on-going model range expansion around another 50,000 units a year can be produced to meet the ever increasing global demand, much of it from emerging new markets such as India, Nigeria, Armenia, Bolivia and Azerbaijan.
The fifth Mini model range is the Countryman SUV which is produced at the Steyr factory in Austria and an increase in production volume expected there.
The Roadster will not be the last new Mini model on the current range platform. A Mini Van, based on the Clubman estate will be launched this year and the Paceman Coupe SUV concept based on the Countryman is also destined for production said Dave Tuckett, product and planning manager for Mini UK.
He added, "With the arrival of the Roadster we now have 108 models in the Mini range but with our comprehensive option packs, options, colour and trim combinations we have calculated there are 15 billion possible spec combinations across the range. No wonder we say no two Minis are the same."
Mini sales in the UK were a shade over 50,000 units last year, a 14 per cent increase over 2010 in an overall new car market which fell due to the economic climate by 4.4 per cent.
Currently the Hatch remains the best selling Mini version in the UK taking 46 per cent of sales with the Countryman SUV the next most popular with 22 per cent. Diesel model sales have increased by 60 per cent this year due to the introduction of the lower-taxed 99g/km variants. Currently diesel models account for 46 per cent of Mini sales in the UK.
Dave Tuckett said they estimate the new Roadster will attract between two to three thousand sales in the UK this year, around the same as the Coupe on which it is based, but considerably less than the 7,000 annual UK sales the four seater Mini Convertible achieves.