Celebrating 20 years of the BMW Mini

Interestingly, he makes two other observations, both pertinent to other British brands. First, he points out that one of the advantages of Mini is that BMW is “not managing counter-expectation”, because buyers have a built-in “good expectation” of it. Second, “some might say that the chassis is over-engineered, but that’s part of the brand”.

In the automotive market of the future, Lampka also hints that the days of exploring every niche, chasing every competitor and aiming to constantly grow volumes might be over; that the future might be with manufacturers making cars that aren’t, as he puts it, comparable.

“For example, the Rover 75 was too ‘comparable’ to other cars,” he says. “But British brands are in a better position [today] than many mass car makers. How many cars does Rolls-Royce need to sell to be the epitome of luxury?”

Lampka doesn’t mention Range Rover, but it’s another good example of how the uniqueness of British cars could again turn into an advantage, especially when moving upmarket and avoiding competing in the most crowded segments.

Of Mini’s future, he will only say that the 20% “hybrid or fully electric” share of the current line-up will be a rather higher proportion when the next-generation Mini arrives post-2023.

He explains that the “50-50” Mini EV project in China with Great Wall Motor is a bespoke solution for an overseas market – but also a pointer to the future. “Currently, imported Minis in China are virtually the same price as locally produced BMW 3 Series,” he explains. “But across the globe, Mini will be a very electrified and very urban brand.”

Key people

Wolfgang Reitzle: A hugely respected engineer, Reitzle was an early proponent of premium brands being capable of growing into major players and set the direction for BMW’s Mini. The Mk3 Range Rover was his brainchild, and he correctly believed it could go far upmarket. He was hired by Ford to run the Premier Auto Group in 1999 but left in 2002 after insisting he needed a $1 billion investment plan, and became CEO of chemicals firm Linde.

Tom Festa: Currently future models integration engineer, Festa is a long-term Cowley employee who has been at the forefront of Mini UK, overseeing the creation of some very diverse models from the Clubman estate to the first electric Mini. That latter project, in which real-world driver data was beamed back to base from 140 cars, established that the average daily journey was just 30 miles, making a huge argument for EVs.


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