BMW is planning a front-wheel-drive supermini to rival the Audi A1 and sit below its current smallest model range, the 1 Series.
Chairman Dr Norbert Reithofer revealed the plan when he said BMW and Mini will be selling up to a million front-wheel-drive cars a year between them by 2015. Our computer image shows what the car could look like.
Mini currently has a production capacity of around 260,000 cars a year. This will rise when the new Countryman goes into production in Austria later this year, and BMW has already confirmed plans to add production models based on the Coupe and Roadster concept cars revealed last autumn.
However these are unlikely to take production beyond 400,000 a year, so 600,000 BMW-badged cars will need to be sold if the target is to be met. That suggests that a small BMW will be offered in more than once guise.
There has never been a front-wheel-drive BMW, but Reithofer is not worried that by making one it will damage the brand. He said that four out of five 1 Series owners already believe they are driving a front-wheel-drive car.
BMW will begin making the first model in a family of small front-wheel-drive cars in 2015. BMW's head of research and development said the front-drive family will be between 3.8 and 4.3 meters long. It has been hinted that there could be up to 20 models based on the new architecture.
The small-car family will help BMW cut the average CO2 output of its fleet by 25% by 2020.