REME Meets With MINI Design Team! Exclusive Info!

From Peter Ziedrich of Redwood Empire Mini Enthusiasts:

On Thursday, April 26, Norm and I, representing Redwood Empire Mini Enthusiasts, were invited to join representatives from the MINI US design team for an impromptu dinner in Crockett. The dinner party was made up of representatives from MINI USA, BMW (Germany), and Designworks/USA (an industrial design firm now a US subsidiary of BMW). We were joined by representatives from both MOASF and Norcal MINIs at the informal dinner.

To our surprise, we were the only US car clubs the design team was meeting with, and they were scheduled to return to Europe within the next couple of days. Prior to our dinner the team had much on it’s California agenda including meeting with the Sausalito based advertising company. The car designers were interested not only in our feelings regarding the 2007 model, but also in the Clubman (to be released internationally sometime in late 2007), possible variants of future models for MINI, our feelings of the local dealerships, and our ideas regarding current advertising. I must add that they were very careful not to disclose any information that was not already in the public domain.

There may possibly be an AWD model and/or diesel model coming to USA within the next few years. A diesel MINI (not MCS) is already available in Europe, getting 50-60 mpg. Although not high in horsepower, the diesel MINI produces as much torque as a gasoline powered MCS. I tried to encourage them to produce a MINI Triumph roadster. I can assure you that a roadster is not on their short list, because every time I brought it up questions were directed to different subjects, although they were interested in seeing the article in MC2 showing an artists design of what a Triumph MINI may look like.

This was not only a very fun and exciting dinner, but was also a very memorable one. I know for me at least (I don’t want to talk for Norm), this was my only opportunity to date, talking to car designers where they seemed interested in my opinions; possibly influencing the direction for future models of a very popular car. While we talked, members of the design team were jotting down notes in their note pads either because they valued our ideas and opinions or to make us think they did. I added a couple of pictures in the REME MegaBBS gallery just to prove that we were there.

I feel very honored to have joined this group for dinner, proving the significance of our “little” (now not-so-little) car club.

2 Replies to “REME Meets With MINI Design Team! Exclusive Info!”

  1. Additiomal comments from Norm:

    While we were meeting with the BMW/MINI guys we also got a chance to speak about mechanical issues of the MINI.

    We told them of the windshield problems and that the OEM – BMW material was thought to be soft and chips and cracks easy. I told them that I understood that PPG made a much better windshield.

    We also addressed the “mods’ vs. warranty issues, where the dealerships will refuse to do warranty work after they discover that mods have been done. We told them that many of the mods were improvements and that they were as good or better quality than the OEM parts. We suggested that they recognize some of these mods and allow “after-market” suppliers to submit their items to MINI and get approval so that they could be used without jeapordizing warranty.

    On the dealers we discussed the good, the bad, and the ugly. Who offered good support & service and who did not.

    They were quite interested in the “MINI Community”. What makes people so passionate about their MINIs. We explained to them about the clubs and activities. I even gave them a copy of the REMETV DVD.

    I expressed that I liked the MINI, just like it is. I didn’t feel that it needed a bunch of changes. The body & style, handling, etc. worked for me. But if they were to build a MINI roadster they should keep it “MINI”. I told them they have a great product and they should keep the tradition. Keep the MINI identifiable as a MIN and not change it like a Toyota, Ford, Lexus, etc. where they all start looking the same. I suggested that they keep the design close enough so that one could tell it’s a MINI at first glance.

    We did recommend that they add a roof handle for the passenger side so that the passenger has something to hold onto while on a twisty spirited run.

    I gave them a printout of the MINI Events newsletter. I don’t think they realized how much MINI stuff was going on around the USA.

    We gave them a lot of feedback on the R56.

    It was a real good opportunity for us to express our views and feelings and a great opportunity for them to get some direct input from MINI enthusiasts.

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