Peter Schwarzenbauer, the former Porsche executive responsible for the US-market launch of Porsche’s Cayenne SUV back in 2003, is nowadays the BMW board member responsible for the Mini brand.
The Cayenne was a convention-breaking model for Porsche, moving the company beyond a pure sports car focus in the hunt for sales. Crucially, the Cayenne’s massive success meant not only more sales overall, but it also coincided with a 32 percent boost in 911 sales.
If more models means more sales, why, then, is BMW consolidating the Mini range to just five ‘superhero’ model lines? Because, in Mini’s case, less is more, according to Schwarzenbauer.
Speaking with industry journal Automotive News, Schwarzenbauer said that while the carmakers - including BMW - are occupying more and more niches for greater volume, Mini “is a brand that will prove the opposite can also be effective”.
“I believe it is good for a brand to concentrate on a few strong characters, but we should also be asking ourselves whether steadily increasing volumes is the only way to go,” he said.
He added that making a decision to reduce a brand’s model count must go hand-in-hand with a focus on the appropriate spread of body styles and an assurance that customers understand each model’s value and purpose.
Each of Mini’s ‘superheroes’ has a strong and independent character, Schwarzenbauer said, intended to allow a customer to be easily matched to the ideal model.
“By concentrating on a smaller range we can be more focused. I’m quite convinced of this. Now we will prove that this strategy works,” he said.
Mini’s future line-up is expected to focus on the three- and five-door Cooper models, the newly revealed Clubman wagonette, the high-riding Countryman and - although not confirmed - a production version of the Superleggera concept.