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Costs put Mini Rocketman at risk

Mon, 20 Jun 2011

BMW is not ready to commit to building the Mini Rocketman, a minicar concept that debuted in March at the Geneva auto show.

The reason? Executives say privately that they fear that the Smart competitor would not be profitable.

The Rocketman is barely longer than the original 1959 Mini. It measures just 132 inches, about 12 inches shorter than the current Mini and just 26 inches longer than the tiny Smart ForTwo.

As a production vehicle, the Rocketman would have to be considerably more affordable than the standard Mini. But the shortened version would cost nearly as much to produce, company sources said.

"It is not going to be easy to make a profitable business case out of the Rocketman," a BMW executive said. Another consideration is that "we currently don't have any free capacity in our Oxford plant."

Mini's new Countryman crossover is being produced in Graz, Austria, by contract manufacturer Magna Steyr. Production of the Paceman two-door crossover is expected to be launched in Graz in late 2012.

BMW is spending $814 million on its British production complex to prepare the facility for the next generation of the Mini.

By Pia Krix and Guido Reinking- Automotive News