US: Mini’s retro allure succumbs to fresh delivery fall image

BMW’s British brand Mini was a successful business model in the US – it showed that not so affordable but very small cars could win the hearts and pockets of customers, creating a true niche.

But for some time now, the Mini model has been screeching and creaking – sales were essentially flat last year (even as the overall market continued its recovery) and dropped massively in 2014 – even as the overall market is getting back to pre-recession levels. Through October, Mini sales in the US have dropped 20% year-over-year, raising questions about the brand’s prowess and whether it could skip the problems that bewildered other once-trendy retro brands.

According to US management, the setback has been primarily driven by the generational changeover of its core two-door Mini hatchback. But others, including dealers and analysts, say the brand’s executives should treat this as a fire alarm. BMW AG reintroduced the brand back in 2002 and officials were seeing yearly sales growing towards 100,000 vehicles by 2020. Now, the peak stands at 66,502 units in 2013, while the number of dealers climbed from 70 to 121.

The executives say that Mini has rethought its strategy on a global level, and with the new generation of models coming out it would reconsider the span of its lineup, focusing instead on volume products. That means the niche offerings – the Roadster, Paceman and Coupe – could be dropped as they didn’t make the priority list.

Via Automotive News