Detroit auto show: GM has eyes for Mini market

January 15, 2008

mini.jpgWho says cute little British cars can have all the fun and the market to themselves?

General Motors’ North American sales chief said at the Detroit auto show that the U.S. automaker is weighing a rival for BMW’s Mini luxury small car (pictured right).

“We are not ready to announce anything, but we are looking at it very seriously,” Mark LaNeve told Reuters. “There is a lot of space in the luxury market that we are not currently occupying. If you look at sophisticated urban transportation, the Mini Cooper, the Audi A1 … that is certainly a segment that has some opportunity for us.”

Mini is seen as a design icon and some owners show their love for the British brand’s roots by emblazoning the Union Jack flag on the car roof.

While most automakers have stayed away from the premium small-car segment, the adoration and higher prices it attracts than other small cars has made some take a second look. In addition to GM, Toyota also has said it is exploring that market.

When asked whether consumers might see such a car from GM soon, LaNeve responded “Some time in the future, yes.”

Separately, GM unveiled three concept minicars at the show and said they could be launched in 18 months in Europe and Asia, but there were no immediate plans to bring them to the United States unless gas prices continued to rise.

(Photo: Reuters)

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