Mini is at a turning point after recently launching a refresh for the Hardtop and Convertible while looking ahead to the next generation of vehicles. One thing not making the transition to the future models is leather upholstery for the interior.
"We don’t need leather any more in the future, because we don’t believe it’s sustainable," Mini design boss Oliver Heilmer told Autocar. "We're totally convinced that we will have modern and high-value products without leather."
Presumably, Mini would switch to vegan leather that's similar to the material that Tesla offers.
In addition to eliminating leather, Heilmer wants to continue using high amounts of recycled material in Minis. Right now, the seat fabric comes entirely from reclaimed materials, and the lining underneath is 70 percent recycled elements.
Heilmer also dropped some small details about the next generation of Minis. He says the that general goal is for them to have a small footprint and to bring joy to the driver. Performance is a factor, too.
"I personally believe that there will still be an emotional connection that we have to keep for our hardcore fans in order to have those John Cooper Works pinnacle products that are purely for driving pleasure," Heilmer told Autocar.
Mini reportedly intends the next-gen Hardtop to be a complete re-think for the model. The Vision Urbanaut EV concept (above) might offer an idea of what to expect. The changes allegedly include shrinking the vehicle's size and putting an emphasis on electric powertrains. Although, a combustion engine would still be available.
The next-gen Mini Hardtop is still several years away. BMW, the brand's parent company, decided to extend the current lineup of Mini products beyond the usual six-year lifespan. The decision came from a desire to save €12 billion by the end of 2022.