Mini Ownership: From the Past to the Present

The Transitions

The history of Mini starts under the company name British Motor Corporation (BMC), which was formed in 1952 as an agreed merge of Morris Motors Limited and Austin Motor Company Limited (AMC). The ownership and the names of the companies that produced Mini changed more than seven times to end up to BMW Group that currently holds the brand. The story for this large transition will be described briefly below.

The original Austin Motors Company Logo

The original Austin Motors Company Logo

AMC was founded in 1905 by Herbert Austin and it was among the first British car manufacturing companies, as he started building cars since 1895.

The badge of the Morris Motors Ltd.

The badge of the Morris Motors Ltd.

Morris Motors Ltd. Was founded in 1912 from William Morris. William Morris was a bicycle manufacturer, but he was also selling, hiring and repairing cars until 1912 when he turned to car manufacturing. Morris Motors was the main competitor of AMC, as both companies founded and developed during the same time.

The rosette of the British Motor Corporation remained as a sticker to the next generations of the Mini, even after the change of the brand name.

The rosette of the British Motor Corporation remained as a sticker to the next generations of the Mini, even after the change of the brand name.

Despite the fact that they were competitors, the two companies merged in 1952 to BMC but both of them kept their separate identities so during the launch of the Mini in 1959, the car was branded both as Morris Mini-Minor and Austin Se7en, as it sold under separate distribution networks for each brand.

The logo of the British Leyland Motor Corporation, the main car manufacturer in UK for many years.

The logo of the British Leyland Motor Corporation, the main car manufacturer in UK for many years.

On 14 December 1966 the BMC was renamed to British Motor Holdings Limited (BMH) after the merger with Jaguar Group, and thirteen months later, in May 1968 the company, under the pressure from the government, merged with Leyland Motors Company Limited, specialised in trucks and buses, creating the British Leyland Motor Corporation Limited (BLMC).

The logo of the Rover Group Plc.

The logo of the Rover Group Plc.

In 1975, BLMC was partly nationalised due to financial reasons and the British Layland holding company was created by the UK government. The company renamed to BL in 1978, to Austin Rover Group Ltd in 1981 to end up with the name Rover Group Plc in 1986. The partly nationalised history of Rover Group Plc lasted from 1975 until 1988, as in July of that year, the British government announced that the company was to be sold to British Aerospace and privatised again, despite the fact that the Rover Group had great relationship with Honda of Japan since 1979. The government actually didn’t want to see the main British car manufacturer to a foreign buyer, and hoped that the good relationship with Honda will continue to exist under the British Aerospace ownership. The hopes came true and the partnership between the two companies continued.

The logo of British Aerospace, the company that onwed the Rover Group Plc from 1988 to 1994.

The logo of British Aerospace, the company that owned the Rover Group Plc from 1988 to 1994.

In 1993 the contractual obligation of British Aerospace to retain the majority of the shares of Rover Group Plc expired, so the CEO of British Aerospace George Simpson began to seek for buyers. The initial plan was to gradually transfer the ownership of Rover Group Plc from British Aerospace to Honda but when Honda baulked at that agreement, the BMW Group stepped in, bringing an unconditional offer of £800 million cash to claim the 80% of the British Aerospace’s shares. The offer was finally accepted in 1994.

The logo of BMW AG, the group that currently owns the Mini Brand.

The logo of BMW AG, the group that currently owns the Mini Brand.

After the buyout of the majority of Rover Group from British Aerospace, the BMW Group realised the potential of the Mini as a brand of its own and started to develop a car to build that Brand. In 2000, as mentioned in The Mini Legend – History (Part III) and Present, the development of the New MINI was almost completed so BMW decided to cease the production of the classic Mini in October of 2000, as the New MINI would be launched in the market shortly, and BMW didn’t want any rivals from other Rover Group products.

The current MINI Brand logo, running under the BMW Group

The current MINI Brand logo, running under the BMW Group

The MINI Brand came with the launch of the new MINI in 2000 Paris Motor Show from BMW Group and the company remains under the same group until today.

The internal affairs

The BMW Group (formally, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG) is a Germany-based automotive, motorcycle and engine manufacturer founded in 1916. Together with MINI Brand, BMW Group holds the BMW Brand (with the subdivision of BMW M and BMW i for performance and electric cars accordingly), the BMW Motorrad Brand for Motorcycles and the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Brand for luxury cars. An analysis of the potential rivals within the BMW Group will follow. The analysis is focused on the MINI Hatchback.

As the new MINI Hatchback has a unique styling and small size that could be categorised as Supermini or B-Segment, it doesn’t interfere with the other brands in the Group. Firstly, it follows a Front-Engine Front-Wheel-Drive vehicle layout, whilst the closest from the BMW models, the 1 Series, follows a Front-Engine Rear-Wheel-Drive vehicle layout, but also both the two Marks of the 1 Series are longer than the two Marks of the New MINI.

The Front-Engine Rear-Wheel-Drive BMW 1 Series Mark II cannot be considered as a competitor for MINI, as both the size and the layout is totally different.

The Front-Engine Rear-Wheel-Drive BMW 1 Series Mark II cannot be considered as a competitor for MINI, as both the size and the layout are totally different.

Furthermore, the new model called i3 from BMW, despite the fact that is actually compact and shorter than Series 1, it is still longer than the MINI. Also, the 5-door layout and the zero emission electric powered engine of i3 differentiates its target group with the one for the new MINI. So, the BMW i3 cannot be considered as a rival of the new MINI Hatchback.

The BMW i3 is a compact car, but the 5-door layout and the electric powered engine excludes it from the competitors list for the new MINI

The BMW i3 is a compact car, but the 5-door layout and the electric powered engine excludes it from the competitors list for the new MINI

These facts lead us to the conclusion that there is no competition within the BMW Group, as both the styling and also the layout of the new MINI is different from those of the small BMW models. Actually, the BMW Group uses the new MINI to expand the sales of the group to Front-Wheel-Drive customers, with a premium compact car, as all the BMW branded cars are traditionally Rear-Wheel-Drive and usually with larger proportions than a MINI.

References

  1. BMW Group (2013) Brands. The Brands of the BMW Group [online] available from http://www.bmwgroup.com/com/en/brands/index.html [31 October 2013] Comments: Information about the different brands under the BMW Group.
  2. Funding Universe (2013) Rover Group Ltd. History [online] available from http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/rover-group-ltd-history/ [31 October 2013] Comments: Excellent historic data about the transition of the Rover Group Plc from the British Government to the BMW Group.
  3. Dezeen Magazine [2013] i3 electric car by BMW [online] available from http://www.dezeen.com/2013/08/03/i3-electric-car-by-bmw/ [01 October 2013] Comments: Images and description for the BMW i3 model.
  4. Adams, K.(2011) The cars : Mini development history, part 1 [online] available from http://www.aronline.co.uk/blogs/cars/mini-classic/the-cars-mini-development-history-part-1/  [19 October 2013] Comments: Includes historical details of the ownership of the companies produced Mini
  5. Adams, K.(2011) The cars : Mini development history, part 2 [online] available from http://www.aronline.co.uk/blogs/cars/mini-classic/the-cars-mini-development-history-part-2/  [19 October 2013] Comments: Includes historical details of the ownership of the companies produced Mini
  6. Wikipedia (2013) British Motor Corporation [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Motor_Corporation   [29 October 2013] Comments: Information about the British Motor Corporation Limited (BMC)
  7. Wikipedia (2013) British Motor Holdings [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Motor_Holdings  [29 October 2013] Comments: Information about the British Motor Holdings Limited (BMH)
  8. Wikipedia (2013) Austin Motor Company [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_Motor_Company [29 October 2013] Comments: Information about the The Austin Motor Company Limited
  9. Wikipedia (2013) Morris Motors [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morris_Motors  [29 October 2013] Comments: Information about the Morris Motors Limited
  10. Wikipedia (2013) Austin Rover Group [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_Rover_Group  [30 October 2013] Comments: Information about the Austin Rover Group
  11. Wikipedia (2013) British Leyland [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Leyland [29 October 2013] Comments: Information about the British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd.
  12. Wikipedia (2013) British Aerospace [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Aerospace  [30 October 2013] Comments: Information about the British Aerospace plc (BAe)
  13. Wikipedia (2013) Mini marque [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mini_%28marque%29 [22 October 2013] Comments: Information about the MINI Brand
  14. Wikipedia (2013) Car classification [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car_classification [29 October 2013] Comments: Information about the car classification, to determine the category of the MINI.
  15. Wikipedia (2013) Mini Hatch [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mini_Hatch [29 October 2013] Comments: Information about the MINI Hatch Mark I and Mark II
  16. Wikipedia (2013) BMW 1 Series (E87) [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_1_Series_(E87) [31 October 2013] Comments: Information about the BMW 1 Series Mark I model.
  17. Wikipedia (2013) BMW 1 Series (F20) [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_1_Series_%28F20%29 [31 October 2013] Comments: Information about the BMW 1 Series Mark II model.
  18. Wikipedia (2013) BMW i3 [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_i3 [31 October 2013] Comments: Information about the BMW i3 model.
  19. Youtube (2012) BMW 1 Series 3-door Promotional Video [online] available from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuY5n-7e1hs [01 October 2013] Comments: Image for the BMW i3 model.
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2 comments

  1. To me, as a wrinkly, the acronym AMC is still redolent of American Motors!!

  2. Pingback: MINI Strengths and Weaknesses | Auto Research 2014

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