Is there room in the market for an upscale, teensy commercial van? Mini will find out soon enough when the Clubvan debuts at the Geneva International Motor Show in March. It's yet another variation on the Mini line, this time based on the Clubman compact wagon.
Like the Clubman, it has a third rear-hinged door on the passenger side and barn-door-style cargo doors. The concept seats two in front, with a flat load floor in back for cargo. Passenger and cargo areas are divided by a fixed aluminum and stainless-steel panel, and the rear window is tinted. Mini added six recessed anchors with elastic straps to the cargo area. A 12-volt outlet was also added for power tools.
The original Mini van was sold between 1960-1982 in the UK, but its principal advantage was that, as a commercial vehicle, it didn't have 20 percent sales tax added to its price. Following that theory, a stripped-down Mini clubvan should retail for about $17,000. If it does, it could be as successful as the original, of which 521,494 were sold.
But Mini is aiming at upscale businesses with the van, which sounds a lot like flower boutiques, antique shops and other businesses run by lawyers' wives. It also sounds as though it won't be a cut-price commercial rig. BMW says the Clubvan can be customized with made-to-order drawers, shelves and bins inside and business logos and custom design themes outside.
The automaker says it’s aiming at "premium small businesses who want to combine sharp driving dynamics with low cost of ownership, while also making a style statement with their company van."
They'd better be literally small businesses though, or the Ford Transit Connect is going to seem a very attractive option, offering double the cargo space for the same money.––Paul Duchene
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