MINI is going to ditch the leather upholstery option from its future models as part of the brand’s plan to become more sustainable.
The automaker is currently looking at ways to become more environmentally responsible without losing the special ‘MINI’ touch.
The decision to not offer a leather option in future models is one of those ways, despite the fact that 54 percent of all new Minis sold in the UK last year were specified with it.
“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.”
But not having a leather option is just the start. “The fabric in the production seats is now 100% recycled. The lining underneath is 70% recycled. We’re looking to create a timeless design. A one-season design, like fashion, isn’t our aim with the design of future Minis,” Heilmer added.
“It’s inventive simplicity. Materials will be recycled, but they’re luxurious at the same time. And inventive in terms of function. For instance, we used cork in the Urbanaut [concept]. The aesthetics will be coming more from a home perspective, rather than an automotive one.”
The head designer of MINI wants however to retain the brand’s heritage moving forward. Heilmer said that his goal is to create the smallest footprint for each of their models and keep the little design elements “that make a Mini the Mini”.
“We ask questions like ‘is there still a toggle switch in the future?’ because you love to use it. We need to do the basics right but then add the magical Mini touch over that.”
Of course, fun is also one of the core elements of the brand. But fun isn’t just about pure driving performance, but also, according to Heilmer, about “the ease of use, the ease of driving, that I believe will last”.
As for the hardcore John Cooper Works variants, MINI’s design boss wants to keep them alive and true to their mission. “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.”