Professor Joachim Milberg, BMW Group chairman, said Mini would be run as a separate business unit meaning the creation of a different sales' environment.
Asked why BMW had kept Mini, while Rover had failed, Prof Milberg said: “Our premium brand strategy dictates that we provide the premium marques in the sectors we are involved in. We wanted to expand the family line.
“Mini is the second cornerstone of our premium brand strategy. Starting in 2003 the Rolls-Royce brand will form the third pillar of this strategy. This will give us a leading position in all the relevant premium segments in the market.
“And this will make us the only multi-brand manufacturer in the world not operating in a mass market. “The BMW group does not depend on our sales volume. We are concentrating on those segments which match the character of our respective brands.”
Dr Burkhard Goschel, member of the BMW management board, said the group did not have a full year unit sales target for the UK. “We will sell as many as we can,” he said. Dr Goschel said the new car would be seen as a grown-up version of the original, while retaining its 'go-kart' driving experience. Mini will be built at BMW's Oxford plant.