Mini Clubvan gets the green light for production

2013 Mini ClubvanThe Countryman Coupe is not the only new Mini on the way. BMW just can’t stop introducing new variants of its pint-sized city car; the latest is a production version of the Clubvan concept shown at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. The Mini van will go on sale in the United States next year.

The Clubvan is basically a Mini Clubman with a commercial-grade cargo area instead of rear seats. The only other differences are the aluminum bulkhead that separates the front seats from the cargo area, and the polycarbonate panels (great for signage) that replace the side windows. With its vertical-split rear hatch and rear-hinged third door, the Clubman was pretty close to being a van already.

The Clubvan’s interior will be customizable; buyers will be able to specify storage drawers and 12-volt outlets.

In Europe, the Clubvan will come in three trim levels. Clubvan One will come with a 98 horsepower gasoline engine. Upgrading to Cooper Clubvan nets a more powerful version of the Mini four-cylinder, with 122 hp. Europeans will also get a 112 hp diesel in the Cooper D Clubvan.

All versions will come standard with a six-speed manual transmission; a six-speed automatic will be optional.

Clearly, this Mini is all about work. No turbocharged Cooper S or track-tuned John Cooper Works versions will be offered. Given the plethora of sporty cars Mini already makes, that is sensible, but it’s hard not to imagine equipping a delivery service with some small, nimble turbocharged Clubvans.

Mini did not say which engines will be available in U.S.-spec Clubvans, or how much the mini delivery vehicles will cost. Those details will be revealed when the Clubvan makes its official debut at the Paris Motor Show this fall.

Small vans are very popular in Europe, the land of narrow streets and high gas prices. Fuel economy will probably be the Clubvan’s strongest selling point in the U.S. businesses that don’t need a full-size van could save a significant amount of money by downsizing. A 2012 Cooper Clubman with the six-speed automatic is rated at 30 mpg combined, while a six-cylinder Chevrolet Express only gets 17.

However, the Clubvan will face stiff competition from a new crop of small vans. Ford’s Transit Connect has slowly been winning over commercial drivers since it was launched here in 2009. Nissan is bringing its NV200 mini-minivan to the States as well. Both vans have optional electric powertrains (the Ford as an aftermarket conversion).

The Ford is slightly larger, and offers much more cargo room: 135 cubic inches compared to the Clubvan’s 32.8. That does not mean the market can’t support more than one small van; the Mini will probably be easier to drive and park than the Ford.

Of course, if gas prices go down, and stay down, businesses may flock back to their big vans.

Cars

BMW’s 2020 M340i will show off mix of tech and luxury at the Los Angeles show

The 2020 3 Series represents the seventh generation of BMW's bread-and-butter luxury sedan. Where previous generations emphasized the driving experience, the 2020 3 Series focuses more on tech than ever before.
Cars

Born to run (forever): The most reliable cars you can buy right now

We all dread the thought of our car turning into a money pit, but choosing a dependable vehicle from the start can help us rack up countless care-free miles. Here, we've rounded up some of the most reliable cars available.
Cars

Our favorite fuel-efficient cars are as frugal as they are fun

You don't need to opt for a hybrid or an all-electric ride in order to achieve good fuel economy. These vehicles pack both performance and style, whether you're in the market for a luxury sedan or a game-changing pickup truck.
Cars

Where are you going this weekend? These 5 off-road vehicles say 'anywhere'

The body-on-frame SUV is going extinct, but there are still several options for buyers looking to skip the asphalt. To help you sort the good from the bad, we've rounded up the best off-roaders currently available.
Cars

Prep your car for the coming snow and sleet with these cold weather tips

Driving in the winter, whether downtown or across the country, is rarely easy. Luckily, we've put together a quick rundown of a few things you should do to winterize your car before the snow officially hits.
Digital Trends Live

DT Daily: Waymo’s driverless cars, ‘Fallout 76’ tips, and Racella

In today's episode of DT Daily, we discuss Waymo's foray into the ridesharing sector, along with various tips for making the most of the recently launched Fallout 76. We also sit down with singer Racella to chat about her new EP, Waves.
Cars

Many adults believe fully self-driving cars are already traversing U.S. highways

The American Automobile Association tested cars with features such as lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control and found them lacking in real-world conditions. Forty percent of surveyed U.S. adults think self-driving cars exist now.
Cars

Want to keep connected on the road? Here are 5 ways to add Bluetooth to your car

The best way to make an old ride feel young again is to bring it up speed with the 21st century. Here's how to properly add Bluetooth to your vehicle, via independent kits, vehicle adapters, or aftermarket head units.
Cars

Jeep’s outdoorsy Gladiator pickup truck bares it all ahead of schedule

Jeep will introduce the long-promised Wrangler-based pickup truck at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Named Gladiator, the model was designed to conquer the great outdoors, not for the construction site.
Cars

The hamster-friendly 2020 Kia Soul will rock out at the Los Angeles Auto Show

Kia has released a teaser image to preview the next Soul. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2020 Soul will keep the outgoing model's boxy proportions but it will wear a sharper design.
Cars

2020 Toyota Corolla sedan aims to offer sharper handling, better tech

The 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan gets the same upgrades as the recently-introduced Corolla hatchback, including a firmer foundation, new engine, and more tech features. Will that be enough to keep the long-lived Corolla nameplate relevant?
Cars

Startup Rivian exits stealth mode with a bold promise to electrify off-roaders

Electric car startup Rivian has finally turned off stealth mode and provided details about what it's been working on since 2009. It will build battery-powered off-roaders instead of taking on Tesla and others in the luxury EV segment.
Cars

Honda will squeeze another model into its SUV lineup at the Los Angeles show

Honda will introduce a new SUV with a familiar nameplate at the 2018 Los Angeles auto show. It envisioned the 2019 Passport as a five-seater alternative to the eight-seater Pilot. The two models will share a platform and many tech features.
Cars

Uber rolls out rewards program that lets its most loyal riders lock in prices

Uber launched a new loyalty program today called Uber Rewards. It offers frequent riders credits to Uber Eats, car upgrades, and the ability to lock in prices on their most traveled routes.