Report: Mini Could Add Plug-In Hybrid, Diesel Models For U.S.

The new platform that underpins the 2015 Mini Cooper could spawn up to ten different variants, and the brand is also considering adding more fuel-efficient variants in the future. Speaking with Automotive News Europe, BMW board member in charge of Mini Peter Schwarzenbauer highlighted some of the possibilities for expansion from the all-new Mini Cooper.

First, Schwarzenbauer noted that Mini could consider adding a plug-in hybrid model, but said a full-electric Mini was further in the future. "There will be electrification within the Mini brand, including a plug-in hybrid for certain," he told ANE. It's quite possible any plug-in hybrid could share parts with the BMW i3. Although the BMW i3 is primarily an electric city car, it will be offered with a 650cc range-extending gasoline engine; Mini could potentially adapt that powertrain for use as a plug-in hybrid. Schwarzenbauer ruled out an all-electric Mini, even though the company previously leased a fleet of Mini-E test cars.

The Mini Cooper has long been sold in Europe with diesel engines, but until now those mills haven't been offered stateside. Based on the success that Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and even BMW itself have had selling diesels in America, Schwarzenbauer thinks the time might be right to launch a diesel Mini here. "The U.S. market is ready for diesel engines now," he told ANE. "This is something we definitely have to consider also for Mini."

The automaker has already revealed the engine specifications for the new Mini. The standard Mini Cooper will use a 1.5-liter turbo-three engine rated for 134 hp, while the Cooper S will use a 2.0-liter turbo-four with 189 hp. Buyers will have a choice between a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic transmission.

As for future variants after the standard Cooper hatchback, Schwarzenbauer said that Mini plans for "eight to 10 models." The Mini brand currently offers seven: the Cooper, the convertible, the Clubman, the Roadster, the Coupe, the Countryman, and the Paceman.It's unclear what other bodystyles Mini might add to bump that count up to eight or 10, although Schwarzenbauer hinted to ANE that Mini could add totally new types of vehicles to its lineup.

Back in 2011, we heard rumblings that Mini would expand its lineup to 10 models. At that time, we were told the additions included a new version of the Clubman wagon and a small people-mover called the Traveler.

The 2015 Mini Cooper debuts next month at the 2013 Los Angeles auto show, and goes on sale here and in Europe in spring 2014. However, Schwarzenbauer stressed that supplies will be limited until production ramps up, telling ANE that, "full availability will probably be around summer [2014]."

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