[Update:] (5.28.03) I just got email from another source regarding this topic:

I just read the article on your page regarding MINI service at BMW dealers. When I was at MINI training last month at BMW NA, I was told by a very high up MINI exec that they are looking into having serivce for MINI at select BMW dealers. [However] it would only be at dealers that are not near a [current] MINI store.

Here's an interesting email I received recently:

I just returned from a 3,000 mile MINI Adventure in the Midwest. Along the way I ran over some road debris and had all four tires and one rim replaced at a very helpful BMW dealership. While I was waiting for the work to be finished a BMW salesman (or manager; I'm not sure) told me that next year BMW will begin training at least one tech in every BMW dealership to do warranty work on MINIs. He said he's had a lot of calls from folks in the area (a city more than 100 miles from the nearest MINI dealership), wanting to know if his service department can work on MINIs; he'd happily sell them, too, but really wants to be able to support the MINI.

This would be great news for those who don't live near a MINI dealership, as well as for those who live just down the street from one, but drive to places where there aren't MINI dealers. I was all too conscious of the fact that a mechanical failure in western Nebraska would mean a LONG side trip to a dealer. Furthermore, having a mechanic at BMW dealers shouldn't much hurt the bottom line for MINI dealers; in fact, it would remove a barrier to purchase for a lot of folks.

The BMW salesman also said that the new 1-series BMW will sell at about the same price level as the MINI… which leaves me wondering why the company will have two cars in the same market slot. I hope that doesn't erode corporate support for the MINI.

This is really interesting news. I know I was just a bit nervous about this issue while on my cross-country trip last June. I think this is a real concern for many folks out there – especially those who bought their cars in areas where there are no MINI dealers present. In fact Jack Pitney recently said that one of the biggest concerns some people have had is the long distances it takes them to get their MINI serviced. He went on to say that they were indeed working on ways to make it easier for people that live further away from dealers. When you think about it using the present BMW infrastructure to alleviate this problem makes by far the most sense.