The MINI brand turned 50 years old on August 26, 2009. Fifty years ago to the day, the British Motor Corporation (BMC) unveiled the result of its quest to design a new and revolutionary compact car. The very first sales brochures praised the Morris Mini-Minor’s “extraordinary future promise”.
Fifty years later, we know that few vehicle concepts have survived as long or achieved such popularity. No other vehicle has ever spawned such a wide range of variants as the Mini. Last year’s MINI E premiere was definitely one of the highlights of MINI’s long history, fulfilling its future promise in a way that no one could have foreseen 50 years ago.
Reducing fuel consumption was already becoming an important issue for vehicle developers fifty years ago. Back in 1956 the Suez crisis and petrol rationing were major factors for the automobile industry. BMC management gave designer Alec Issigonis the following guidelines: the Mini must make creative use of the limited space available; accommodate four passengers; and guarantee perfect handling and low fuel consumption. By 1962 – within three years of its market launch – Mini production already exceeded 200,000 vehicles a year. Once the world’s rich and famous (Peter Sellers, the Beatles, Brigitte Bardot, Clint Eastwood, Lord Snowdon, Twiggy…) adopted the Mini as their preferred city car, it rapidly became the symbol of an entire generation. Over the next 40 years the Mini became an icon – a brand with a unique tradition and charm that appealed to all ages.
Following its acquisition of Rover in March 1994, the BMW Group decided to revive the MINI brand tradition and continue writing Mini’s history: The new MINI was to create a unique premium brand with unmistakable charisma and excellent product qualities in the compact segment – respecting its history, but at the same time meeting the needs of its present customers. The brand was successfully re-launched thanks to consistent positioning as a premium global brand and a clear focus on its new target customers. The re-launch relied upon excellent product qualities and a modern design that paid tribute to its earlier iconic status. Communications also give the brand a consistent global profile, or to be more precise, a unique MINI feeling: MINI not just as an A-to-B car – but as an expression of an outgoing and spontaneous lifestyle, with “enthusiasm” at the very heart of the MINI brand.