With the limited range of electric cars, and a looming economic crisis in some parts of the globe, there’s renewed focus on fuel-efficient small cars with conventional technology.
Earlier this week Motor Authority reported that Audi was considering a conventional hatchback for its next A2, rather than a zero-emissions car, and BMW was reported to be reconsidering the extent of its i sub-brand.
So instead of new electrics and plug-in hybrids, we may just see cars and engines further downsized, in an effort to keep efficiency up and cost down. So it should be no surprise that BMW is rolling out an updated version of its striking Mini Rocketman at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
First unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, the Rocketman hinted at a truly mini-sized car and was almost immediately rumored for production. However, just as quickly, production plans were said to have been canned.
The announcement of an updated, MkII version strongly suggests that the Rocketman is back in the spotlight. The concept car approaches the classic Mini in terms of dimensions, while advanced technology underpins some of BMW’s plans for city living in the years ahead.
The MINI Rocketman Concept’s spaceframe is made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic, ensuring it remains light. Inside there are three full-size seats plus an extra jump-seat designed for a small child. One special feature of the design is the distinctive lighting system for the roof. The concept car has a full-surface glass roof, whose illuminated braces recreate the look of Britain’s Union Jack flag. Even when the roof is not illuminated, the braces--running horizontally, lengthways and diagonally--continue to shine in bright Porcelain White. On the latest version of the Rocketman Concept, the roof’s transparent surfaces are bordered by a metallic red painted strip.
There’s still no word on what’s under the hood, but it’s likely BMW will opt for a version of its new generation three-cylinder engine.––Paul Duchene