New Mini Cargo will be van-tastic

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IOL mot pic jan3 Mini Clubman 1 . Mini Cargo panel-van will be launched at the 2012 Geneva motor show.

BMW is about to recycle a very old idea by removing the rear seats of a long-wheelbase Mini Clubman with a flat rear deck, replacing the rear windows with sheet metal and calling it the Mini Cargo.

Leyland did exactly the same thing in the late 1960s with a panel-van version of the Traveller and it's no secret that Fiat is planning a panel-van 500, to be called the Giardinetta.

Now Auto Motor und Sport has confirmed that BMW will pre-empt the arrival of the 500 van by launching the Cargo (which, let's face it, is not exactly a major development exercise) at the 2012 Geneva motor show.

Unlike the little Fiat, which will still be aimed at the yuppie market, the Cargo is apparently intended as an honest-to-goodness commercial hauler, competing directly with the mini-vans such as the Ford Transit Connect and the Fiat Doblo - although IOL Motoring editor Jason Woosey speculates that price will still put it firmly in the 'boutique business' class, such as florists and courier services.

And here's another leap in the dark: we know BMW is working on commercialising its experimental, battery-powered Mini E, while most European makers are serious about electric inner-city vans, to cut down on both fuel costs and pollution levies.

Put the two together (once again, very little development costs involved) and just possibly, one day, your Quattro Stagione with extra pepperoni could be humming to you in a Mini Cargo E!

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