BMW Hopes Its Olympian Mini Will Boost Sales image

BMW offered more than 200 Mini vehicles in its sponsorship of the Olympics, part of a bid to boost the auto maker’s sporty image and keep up with the mounting competition.

Over 200 Mini vehicles made an appearance at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, carrying athletes, and a special-edition Mini was painted the logo of the 2012 games on the roof.

“Mini is the benchmark in profitability in the small-car segment,” said Albrecht Denninghoff, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Silvia Quandt Research.

Since Mercedes is the leader in luxury-auto sales, both BMW and Audi try new strategies to get that craved first place. The Mini brand was reintroduced in 2001, after BMW’s failed attempt to takeover Rover, winning new customers and adding over 200 million euro ($243 million) to the company’s annual profit.

Other auto makers are beginning to focus on the up scaling small-car segment. This year Fiat began production of a wagon version of the 500, trying to compete with BMW’s Mini. The 500L is part of the Italian car maker’s new models, an attempt to cut costs and save money during the European market slump. PSA Peugeot Citroen, which manufactures engines for the Mini, has introduced in March 2010 the rival DS3 compact.