Commercial vehicles aren't known for being a hotbed of style, but BMW's Mini arm will attempt to gussy up the stoic working world with this: the Mini Clubvan, a cargo version of the Clubman model that will go on sale in this country within a few months. Step one: It's spelled "Parlor" on these shores.
While the Clubvan has a long tradition in England, there's never been an "upscale cargo van" market in the United States, because commercial vehicle buyers typically don't want to pay for something as esoteric as style. The closest thing to the Clubvan still on our roads is the Chevrolet HHR panel van, a variant of the GM small car that eventually became a staple of rental fleets. Demand for the HHR panel wasn't enough to maintain the line, and its cargo capacity was twice the 30.3 cu. ft. of the Clubvan's.
Mini says the Clubvan -- which does away with the rear seats of the Clubman, but is otherwise similar to the 118-hp base engined version -- isn't aimed at plumbers and drywall hangers, but "fashion designers, event caterers, architects or photographers" who want to haul equipment and look good doing it. If anyone can find a niche for a fashion hauler, it's Mini.
Other news from around the industry:
Toyota prepares massive legal defense to sudden acceleration claims: There's a Dickens novel in here -- not so much in the legal wranglings, but the way the lawyers' children will be ignored for three to five years. (Automotive News)
Volkswagen, Porsche seek to combine before 2014: VW and Porsche already operate as cousins, and if it can buy the remaining 51% of Porsche it doesn't own without a giant tax bill, VW will put a ring on it. (Reuters)
How Lincoln could get a Mustang-inspired car: I can easily imagine how this story was written: "Hey, Car and Driver, you'd know what'd be cool? If Ford built a Lincoln sedan off the new Mustang. TTYL, Lincoln product planning person." (Car and Driver)