Mini reportedly wants to capitalize on strong demand for crossover SUVs by adding two more examples to its lineup to join the existing Countryman.
Autocar reported Monday that Mini is developing both a battery-electric SUV slightly larger than the Countryman and a conventional SUV closer in size to the BMW X3. A revival of the Paceman name for the electric SUV and Traveller for the X3-sized SUV was mooted by the magazine's sources.
Mini was rumored to be working on a minicar smaller than the Hardtop for its next EV. While that model could still happen, the electric SUV is now likely to come first to tap strong demand in China.
According to Autocar, the electric SUV will be the first vehicle built by Spotlight Automotive, the new Chinese joint venture between Mini and Great Wall Motors. Spotlight was established late last year to develop electric cars for Mini and Great Wall, for sale in both China and export markets. Its plant is scheduled to be completed in 2022.
The X3-sized SUV is designed primarily for North America, where the Countryman is deemed too small. It isn't expected until about 2024. Interestingly, Autocar reported that the SUV could share the rear-wheel-drive-based CLAR platform found in the X3, meaning it could potentially be built at plants in China and the United States where the X3 is currently in production. And to maintain some semblance of Mini-ness, the SUV would likely be the smallest contender in its segment.
Concurrent with the development of the two new SUVs is development of a fourth generation of the modern Mini lineup. The first of the new generation will be the signature Hardtop, which is slated to arrive around 2022 or 2023, and according to Autocar we'll see a repeat of the battery-electric Cooper SE variant, albeit with a more competitive battery and electric motor combo than the current model.