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Opinion: Can BMW & MINI Sell More Without Selling Out?

Back in 2002, BMW and MINI produced only a handful of models; the 3, 5 and 7 series, X5, Z4 and of course the MINI hatch. With the current model line-up that seems like an eternity ago but in reality we are only a decade removed from it. At that time, the new to the market MINI and the high-end Rolls Royce brands each featured only a single body style a piece. While simpler, things were not all rosy. BMW had reached a sales plateau and supplier parts pricing was through the roof, making profit margins slim. Anything but ideal for an independent manufacturer.

After BMW’s failure with Range Rover and the monetary loss due to its sale- it looked like the company was on the brink of collapse or worse yet, being swallowed by a competitor. The board of management made some decisions that would shape the future of the BMW and the group as a whole, allowing each brand to remain, and for the BMW Group to continue to be independent. Of the three MINI was perhaps the biggest gamble. Opinions were wildly split inside BMW at the time as to whether to move forward with the brand or sell just months before it’s 2001 re-launch. The former group won out and in the time since MINI has become an indispensable part of the BMW Group. But that doesn’t mean the BMW Group as a whole is guaranteed to survive long-term with it’s current sales.

In the car industry there is a magic number. It’s the number of sales that allows both economies of scale and viability to be at their peak or thereabouts; that number is 2 million sales. The BMW Group is on a holy grail like quest to reach it, and it seems the group is well on its way with over 1.6M sold last year (MINI did over 250,000). It is not a goal simply for profits- it is a goal designed to secure the BMW Group’s survival and that MINI, Rolls and BMW can flourish without the worry of a takeover or being priced out of the market. The BMW Group sales for 2011 were 1.66 million units, a new record and the target of 2 million is ever moving. Some predictions point to 2016 as the year 2 million is hit but it is extremely variable because of the world economy and it is unknown how the future small premium models will sell.

Seems like a simple concept- sell more. But it’s not. The three prongs of the BMW Group are all in the “premium” area within their segment. That means buyers tend to be more particular; materials need to be of high quality, electronics have to be the latest and greatest all while producing vehicles that are of the highest level of safety and efficiency. That said, cheaper build cars can’t be produced because of these consumer demands and the Group’s need to maintain each brand’s established reputation. Can’t have a $150,000 car and a $16,000 car in the same showroom can you? The solution is to offer more niche vehicles and broaden the appeal to more consumers while staying true enough to the brands reputation and heritage. For MINI that means products like the Coupe and Roadster on one hand and the Clubman and forthcoming Countryman Coupe on the other.

The Plan

BMW, at last count, has 12 distinct vehicle offerings 1, 3, 5, 5 GT, 6, 6 GC, 7, X1, X3, X5, X6 and Z4 (not including touring, long wheel base, coupe and convertible separations or M). MINI has the hardtop, convertible, roadster, coupe, and Countryman not to mention the JCW variants. Rolls Royce has four models of the top of the line Phantom (sedan, coupe, convertible and long wheel base) and also the newer Ghost (sedan and long wheel bas). That is a lot more product in just 10 years and there are more models coming.

The increase in models also has coincided with an increase in shared parts between models and BMW Group brands, decreasing build costs. BMW has also collaborated with other manufacturers (PSA is one) on development and production of engines, chassis and established larger purchasing agreements with suppliers to obtain cheaper pricing on parts. What this all means is that while the cars are actually featuring improved materials and build quality, profits are being increased.

Profits may sound like a negative as a consumer but the truth is that profits are healthy for everyone as long as some of that profit is returned to the facilities and the development of future product not just pocketed or used to increase share prices. Sustainability and investment in the future are priorities of the BMW Group.

Our Concerns

So far this all sounds great (in theory). However, there are some serious concerns with this approach; market saturation and the threat of badge engineering being the main two. Many a car company has set out on a path for world domination and sputtered because quality declined and too many of the same products in showrooms confused buyers, leading to less sales. Unlike others, the BMW Group has gone down a completely different road.

They are designing products across brands that are different in the target audience. They are not creating three of the same vehicle and using different styling and options to separate them. They are designing separate vehicles entirely that do happen to share some underpinnings and some common parts.

The first vehicle shared across brands within the BMW Group was the Rolls Royce Ghost. In theory its base is the BMW 760Li, but it is a lot more than a rebadged product, in fact it is quite original. The body in white was reengineered, it has a redesigned interior and its drive characteristic is unique. In comparing the two cars back to back you’d be hard pressed to find similarities. That isn’t by chance: most of the shared items are out of view and are not key to the differentiation of the vehicles.

The Ghost is the fastest selling Rolls and has increased sales exponentially- RR has sold more units than ever before thanks in no small part to the Ghost fitting the brand perfectly. It has achieved numerous accolades from auto journalists and has been well accepted by some of the world’s most particular consumers. The Ghost introduced ultra luxury buyers to a vehicle that while being smaller in size is not any smaller in refinement. For Rolls Royce’ it’s not just a one pony show any longer for the brand and that has aided its volume and profits.

Enter the Front Wheel Drive BMW and the Third Generation MINI

BMW will soon introduce a product that is contradictory to everything the brand has stood for. It will bring to market next year a front wheel drive vehicle. It is sacrilege; enthusiasts bemoan the decision as there cannot be anything worse than going against the concept of rear wheel drive as the only answer for true driver’s cars, and the “Ultimate Driving Machine.” BMW has used the rear wheel drive concept since the first cars moved down the lines in early 1900’s Bavaria.

In the quest to hit that magic number BMW has decided that since over 80% of 1 Series customers surveyed in Europe believed that their RWD 1 Series was front wheel drive already, there is no harm in building one. The drive train development and basic platform will be shared with the next generation MINI thus reducing costs across two brands and targeting different customer bases. The front wheel drive sub-1 Series product name is still up for debate but Compact Sports Tourer (Compactive) is one of the finalists. What this translates to is a wagon or MPV with a sloping rear roof. The main focus being on internal space and comfort for the passengers and a Mercedes Benz A/B Class competitor. This smaller more efficient vehicle will also help BMW in the quest to reduce emissions. The concept version of this sub-1 Series product will be displayed this fall in Paris.

The hope is that this twist will give the car some distinctive qualities that set it apart from the forthcoming MINI.

The MINI brand reincarnated celebrated its ten year anniversary not that long ago. For ten years it has been part of the BMW Group and while sales have been consistent, up until recently there was little in terms of growth or profitability. With the introduction of the larger, yet still small by current standards, Countryman the MINI brand is now being made available to more consumers. While the hatch continues to sell well, there is a limit to how many are interested in it, because of its size and styling.

It is true that there are some that will solely buy the car for its unconventional styling, however it is no longer as different or unconventional as it was at launch. In addition to a few million MINIs on the roads worldwide many other brands have gone retro, with features like contrasting roofs as well as offering smaller sized cars similar to the MINI. The competition is now outpacing in some markets and the fear is that MINI is isolated from new conquest sales. That is why the current formula must change.

MINI, (as mentioned earlier) is “premium”, it commands a significant price and with that consumers want perceived value. Soft touch materials, good ergonomics, reliability and modern creature comforts are some of these needs. The sharing of development costs and increased use of common components with the front wheel drive BMW will allow the next MINI to be more premium while remaining in the same pricing segment. Theoretically, sales will increase and customer satisfaction will improve thanks to improved parts and materials.

While there may be some design changes and updates to the car they are not happening just for the sake of it. Some of these changes happened to the original Mini across its life cycle (Moving the speedo from the center, adding roll up windows in place of the sliding ones, adding an auto transmission etc.) and buyers still bought it and the brand had its reasons to modernize at the time. Cars evolve with the wants and needs of consumers, technology, emissions and safety mandates. MINI will remain original just undergo some modernizations, much like wardrobes change and exterior color palettes do but at the core MINI will be MINI.

Like the Ghost and 7 Series, this new cross brand sharing with MINI will yield two completely different products targeting two separate places in the market. The BMW Group has figured out how to not compete with itself and how to keep the differentiation of its brands alive and well.

Competent Individual Products with Shared Components

Having seen both the “F” generation MINI and the front wheel drive BMW test mules in person, I can fully attest to the outward differences. There is little in the way of shared design. If it wasn’t for the fact they are being announced as related their appearance would never lead to that conclusion. Sure they have similarities in the ways the wheels attach to the hubs and the size is small but that is really all that stands out as being related traits. On the inside each will feature its own styling with many of the hidden components (air ducting/blowers/light modules/ electronics etc.) being shared in a similar manner as the Ghost and 760Li.

Talking with engineers familiar with the dynamics of each car and how they perform I was told that each has an individual personality- much like siblings. The appearance and drive are directly related to the target market of each and there is little overlap. Our sources indicate that BMW has “cracked the FWD nut.” One source says that road feel is more in line with the R50 MINI while efficiency and comfort are more in line with the newer F20 1 Series. If that is even partially correct these cars will be a resounding success.

Final Thoughts

No one would like to see BMW or MINI go the route of SAAB or even be the debacle which is Lotus. If that means the BMW Group has to use some unconventional methods to stay viable- so be it. There is one caveat, we still want to be able to go to a dealership and buy a vehicle that is a modern interpretation of the brand’s traditions.

BMW can’t go all front wheel drive and cater to the elderly and a MINI can’t become the size of an X5 or drive like a Lexus. If the day comes when there are no BMWs or MINIs we’d consider buying then that is the day we say auf wiedersehen. To answer the original question; is the group “selling out to sell more cars”, Our answer is NO. If they need to build cars for the masses so we can get our enthusiast’s piece of heaven, that is just evolution and survival of the fittest in our eyes.

Written By: Michael

  • Chilly

    Excellent article.  I am particularly excited by the following quote: “One source says that road feel is more in line with the R50 MINI while efficiency and comfort are more in line with the newer F20 1 Series”..  What a perfect combination!

    Cheers

  • Aurel

    Personally I think they are going in the right direction as well … BMW and MINI are still the best handling cars in their respective price points. The rest is just gravy … Godspeed!

  • JonPD

    Good article Michael.

    Agree on many points, think BMW is a great view of where MINI is heading. BMW has been producting niche cars for a long long while. While expanding its model range and size/weight year by year BMW has slowly moved to being more and more visually vanilla.  I am sure Japanese cars have also evolved to look more European. They are meeting broadly in the middle. while small thinks such as panel lines, bulges, front and rear clips the general cars look more and more alike as time goes by.

    I wonder if MINI is going to share this move towards commonness as the years go by. Think the basic problem is that BMW has failed to find a model at a price point that competes globally.. While driving feel are very different still. I think part of the issue is that BMW fails to produce a class dominating vehicle, this is something I think MINI has been facing for a while.

    Should be interesting to see where both brands are in a decade.

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      I agree and disagree- 

      All cars are coming to the middle (safety and sales are pushing it that way). The differences in tech and drive are all that will remain. A class dominating vehicle is the 3 Series and has been since inception- the issue is that not everyone needs/wants a car like that nor can afford it. To build a car for everyone is difficult- that is why there is now the Driving Experience Control- it makes the car adaptable to the driver’s likes. In the past BMW’s drove well but had firm steering, harder suspension and that is not what most people like so it is hard to sell someone something that doesn’t fit all of their likes. The sportier cars can still be had via options (BMWNA packages are their own and not what BMW AG designed the car to be or optioned as). Make the car softer and some that liked it hard will leave- We all don’t wear the same brand of shoes. MINI is a much harder case because they are quite expensive for what you get currently- and the size makes it much more difficult to sell to the majority. It is a small target audience and the styling is somewhat polarizing… MINI is a tough one on many levels and that is why it almost didn’t come to be.

  • R Burns

    What a tribute to the R50 !

    it is finally stated that no Mini is more rewarding to drive ;)

  • b-

    No.  Did you see the spy shots of the interior?  They HAVE sold out and sacrificed the design language while doing it.  Sure, the center speedo was not present on ALL Mini models but it is that  one interior feature that makes it a MINI.  With the addition of square vents and other elements that take away from the design icons I see that MINI has lost part of it’s soul.  Like Gabe said when that F56 Render came out, it doesn’t have the same character that a MINI is needs to have. I guess that this is what happens when you design a car using surveys rather than heritage.

    I see the MINI moving away from a drivers car to an appliance car and that makes me sad.

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      So moving a speedo is worse than going FWD? Design language is always up for interpretation- Do we still build buildings in the Baroque style? I’d be interested to know what brand has never had a design evolution? Even the VW  Type 1 (beetle) which sold from 1938-2003 had changes over its life span in styling, which is by far the longest produced and best selling vehicle ever not to mention a radical styling exercise. 

      I am also curious as to what brand people will buy instead of a MINI bc of the possible square vents and moved speedo? Most go VW- could there be anything with less “flair”?

      The drive will be MINI, the economy will be MINI and 99% of the style will be MINI- to me that’s not selling out- it called growing up and realizing that things evolve to be relevant. 

      • b-

        I am not saying that the Speedo is the reason that it will be less of a drivers car but designing to the masses because of a survey is not the way to design a drivers car.  That is like building a race car by committee and not building the best car you can so you can go out and kick some ass and win.  Most people who drive, at lest in the US, MINI’s largest market are content driving an appliance.  Automatic transmission, bland, un-interesting interior, boring.  Is the Center Speedo the only thing that makes MINI unique?  No.  Is it something that does?  Yes.  What is next?  What other design icons will go out the window?  How soft will the ride have to get so the masses will think it is a comfortable ride? I am all for making a car safer, more efficient and more cost effective but when they mess with the soul of  what the car is that is not a good thing.

        I would never buy a VW and I didn’t buy a MINI because of flair, I bought mine because when I was a kid my father had a customer with a Mini collection and I fell in love with the Mini when I first saw it.  When the MINI came out I wanted one because of the retro styling and of course the Go-Cart handling.  If either the styling or the handling not been there I would not be a MINI owner or fan today.  Does my MINI have Quirks?  Hell yes it does!  WOuld I change it?  Hell no, they are what makes my MINI the most fun car I have ever owned.

  • Piperbud

    Very interesting article. Of course, the model proliferation presents some significant challenges for both BMW and MINI. I am hopeful that MINI takes a hint from its parent and creates another genuine “mini” MINI just as BMW has created the 1 series to resurrect the scale that was once heralded by BMW enthusiasts. The classic 2002 Tii and early 3 series “Bimmers” provided the driving experience many were eager to enjoy. I think FWD and BMW are antithetical and is an absolute step in the wrong direction.  The new 1 series BMW (especially the M version) is a fabulous car just as the “Rocketman” concept could become. Why are these bean counters being given carte blanche to dictate the feasibility of desirable designs? Get back to basics … that’s all we need to do!

  • Zinful

    The jump in pricing has limited the purchase to many. Will the Rocket Man ever be built and at what $$$ ? 

  • Bob Hayhurst

    Nice commentary/analysis Micheal.

    I agree with your final thought, in that BMW hasn’t sold out. While there’s plenty of path to stray from, I think that BMW/MINI has managed to stay pretty close to the company’s core beliefs.

    It’s shocking to to think that 80% of European 1 series buyers thought their cars were FWD. I’m aghast…

    • R Burns

      1. being given the survey’s sponsor (BMW) maybe it is meant to justify FWD !

      1. i bet that, for American 1 series buyers, it would be more than 80%
      • http://BimmerFile.com Gabriel Bridger

        Actually I doubt that. The 1 Series is only sold as a coupe here and is often market more to enthusiasts than most other BMW products on dealer floors.

        • R Burns

          Yes you are right, i forgot it is only a coupé in US

  • Scamper

    Styling is important (speedo less so), but to me, one of the things that makes a MINI a MINI is its… mini-ness. I’m really hoping for two things for next year’s redesign: 1) a wheelbase no longer than the current 97.1″, and 2) a hybrid or all-electric model. (Buying another gas-burner doesn’t seem very forward-thinking, IMO.)

    Also, I haven’t heard whether the Coupé and Roadster (the two I’m interested in) will be enjoying a redesign next year as well. Should I assume the refreshed tech will apply to the entire line, despite the relative youth of the 2-seaters?

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      The coupe/roadster will have many years in current form (5 at least), they will remain “R” and not change to “F” for some time as they were just introduced.

      Thinking about wheel base- if you look at the new EPA regs for fuel economy they are partially based on wheel base so all brands have increased wheels bases to make the fuel economy jump less (regs at their finest). The wheelbase may increase a bit but the outward dimensions are nearly identical to the current model. Longer wheel base also means more interior room and more comfort/stability (turn in will be a bit less aggressive but that is about it).

    • http://BimmerFile.com Gabriel Bridger

      Each car has a 7 year production cycle until new models. Within that they have a refresh four years after launch. If there’s another version of the coupe and roadster it would be 2018 roughly.

  • http://twitter.com/therealjpmoney JP Money

    Good write up. It’s like saying without producing for the general buyer, enthusiasts would never see a GP. On the 1 Series comment about fwd or rwd, I’m sure most people don’t know vs blindly guessing fwd. It’s all in how you pose the question. I think with MINI moving up market (mid to upper $20k rrange) it makes a fwd BMW that doesn’t directly compete harder. I could see people moving from MINI to that BMW for the sake of owning a BMW. It wouldn’t kill MINI but keep the real fans in a MINI. I’m always curious to see the next gen. I wasn’t a fan of the R56 b/c it looked bulbous by comparison to the R50/R53 but I see them now as a MINI, just like my R53. The Clubman and Countryman both pull from MINIs past even though they was larger. I DESPISE suvs but would own a Countryman b/c it has that MINI spunk and that’s what counts. I’d really hate to see the center speedo go, but it can still have spunk without it.

    • Nick

      Excellent comments. 

  • Dr Obnxs

    Here’s a slightly different spin on this. BMW group wants 2 million buyers a year. Where do they come from? If the group had saturated before, the then current offerings were played out. They could 1) lower the price to grow sales; 2) sell in more geographical regions to grow available market and hence sales and 3) offer more products to gain sales in existing and new geographies.

    All have some risk. For #1 to work, you have to have costs decrease a lot more than the change in sales price. For #2 to work, the cost of expansion has to be less than the new market generated profits. For #3 to work, the cost of new products has to be pretty low or one eats all the profits in launching the variants.

    To minimize the costs of new product variants, one HAS to share platforms and subsystems. Selling 2 million different cars with no shared components is a recipe for disaster. Selling 2 million of just one model is a market impossibilty. So the company has to find the right mix between these two absurd endpoints. (The wisdom of the actual path chosen will provide fodder for internet debates as long as the company is in business).

    There are obvious plays in geographic expansion: you go where the money and people are! The money and people are in China, Brazil, rich Middle Eastern nations, and soon to be India. To not go there is idiocy.

    In a way, this is the perfect illustration that car companies (most companies, really) are like sharks. Keep swimming forward or die! But there are a couple risks….

    Are there really 2 million buyers per year that want what the traditional BMW is? I’d venture no. There are not 2 million buyers that BMW can find that prize driving dynamic over all else. This is why the luxury content and features that go with premium market cars are slowly but surly becoming a higher percentage of the car’s value proposition. How does one offer what the customer mix demand and still stay true to the brands roots? Eventually, if enough buyers don’t give a hoot about driving dynamics, then the only way it will be offered to the market is via special releases and homage to a past ideal….. Anyway, this is one of the big risks for BMW…

    For MINI, the problems and more significant. How can one have a premium small car that has a much lower price point? Like Michael pointed out, the early new MINIs were a sales hit, but not that much (if any) profit was created. Chalk this up to high warranty costs or whatever, it’s hard to have a car that costs ~$25k where you can give free maintenance and have premium content. And there are many assemblies where cost reduction seems to have bitten MINI in the butt with many early failures! You can only put more quality into the car if you up the volume so that good parts and subassemblies into it at a very low price. This was why the Tritec was a shared engine platform, and why the PSA project created the Prince engines.

    This is also whay MINI HAS to create more variants. The expansion to new markets is a given, but that’s not enough for MINI. It needs enough volume so that the relatively low price point (for a premium offering) doesn’t bite the BMW group in the ass via high warranty costs effectively flushing all the profits down the toilet! (For those that doubt that this can happen, I think it did when the brand was launched. There were tons and tons of reports of what should have been warranty claims denied over the flimsiest of excuses, as well as people who worked in dealerships saying that the mother ship was being very tight with good will and very, very vigilant at sticking dealers with inappropriate warrenty work.)

    Anyway, this means that MINI walks a more difficult tightrope than the more expensive groups like BMW and Rolls. They generate less profit per unit because the cars sell for less per unit! There’s less headroom to cover miss-steps.

    The inevitible logic of the market means all of you that want MINI to stick to a pure core are going to be dissapointed. They can’t. They have to offer more that shares some internally defined brand attributes. And you can bet that a lot of the offerings will offend many who view themselves (rightly or wrongly) as defenders of the MINI/Mini dream. If MINI doesn’t offer more, it will go the way of the Dodo and we’ll have no MINIs to enjoy, no matter how much of purist we view ourselves as.

    Personally, I think that BMW is offering too many variants, but what do I know? The sales numbers grow, the profit is there, so the market doesn’t seem to agree with me. I just wish they’d offer the 5 door 1-series diesel here… That would make me happy!

  • Kec201814

    Might be time to add MINI dealerships. The Pacific Northwest has a dealer in Portland and one in Seattle. None in Easten Washington (Spokane), North Idaho nor Missoula. It is 300 + miles to my Portland dealer, be alot easier if I could get a MINI from a Spokane BMW dealer (100 miles). It is hardly worth the trip to get “free” maintenace after one throws in an overnite with hotel, etc.

  • gokartride

    I think in hindsight that MINI might have been bettter off going with the Rover concept for the new MINI rather than the BMW concept…it would have given them much more design flexibility without being trapped in a kind of retro-homage design coffin.  Others are now surpassing them in mini-ness….that needs to be addressed if the brand is to survive.

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      Being smaller is not going to help them survive- there are few people that want a smaller car. Do you see many Smart four twos on the road? The Rover concept would have never made it to a second generation for many reasons (if you are talking about the Spiritual Concept). Economies of scale, value and reaching more of an audience is what will help.

      • gokartride

        I guess that is my point….that the MINI pallet may be too limiting and could stifle the innovation needed to perpetuate the brand in a way that is true to the brand.  In this case it is less about smallness and more about real innovation. 

  • BobS

    Hooray for the Checkmate!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nathan-Fong/100000353101204 Nathan Fong

    Well thought out article.  I have been a BMW owner since my then new 2000 Z3-2.8L Roadster, a since then a few other 3-ers.  I now still have my Z3 and now a brand new ’12 ALL4 Countryman. Totally different driving styles and the MINI is still amazing car and it’s characteristics. Yeah I know it is not as sporty (if I wanted sporty, I would had gotten a JCW Cooper coupe) :) I do feel that the BMW Group is heading the right way. Though sometimes you wonder if they listen to the real enthusiast drivers of the group.  ;) Not everything is better, when it is bigger. So I hope that the next gen MINI if bigger is at least holds the same or less weight as current models.

  • frogberg

    many other brands have gone retro, with features like contrasting roofs as well as offering smaller sized cars similar to the MINI

    Many? Which ones? I know that folks will be (and have been) cross-shopping the 500, but those comparisons have been covered very well here. Small cars have been around since the original Mini. What other brands are using the contrasting roof?

    Regarding the original question, I would like to respectfully disagree. I believe that they are selling out. BMW/MINI are selling some of the soul of the MINI in order to compete. Others may argue that as long as the driving dynamic is there, it’s still a MINI and it doesn’t matter where the speedo is, how many circles there are inside or which cars are sharing the platform. When I was shopping for my car in 2004, there were a handful of other cars that I was cross-shopping. Of those, the MINI was the only one that didn’t share its platform with another car. The car was unique in more ways than just the highly stylized interior and this uniqueness appealed to me. Nobody could snarkily say to me, “Hey, nice Subaru!” the way they could if I’d bought a Saab 9-2X or “Nice Ford” if I’d gotten a Mazda3.

    The changes they’ve made already and the changes they’re preparing to make have started them down a slippery slope whereby MINI will be losing much of its soul. That doesn’t mean they can’t make changes in later generations, when the company can afford to do this, but I personally believe that the brand has started to lose what makes it unique and, while this may be a sound business decision, I think the enthusiasts of the brand (those not drinking the company Kool-Aid) are the ones losing out.

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      Come to Europe… Look at the Audi A1, Citroen, Alfas,Fiat, Peugeots Renaults etc. In the US- the Chevy Sonic, Ford Flex, Range Rover Evoque, Suzuki, Kia and others. There is a lot of contrasting roofs out there. Heck the MiTo is gorgeous and has round air vents etc..

      If MINI doesn’t evolve it is dead- it’s that simple. BMW is giving up its whole principle of RWD to save MINI… that is major- and people complain about a stupid speedo that the original MINI axed as well. Don’t get me wrong I love our MINI but the speedo is not what makes the car.

      MINI is stagnant (especially without the often hated on Countryman) and has limited conquest ability. Each month sales numbers prove that, as do profits which are slim and actually do not allow for any advancement of the vehicle. That last part is why sharing a platform is needed (that’s the reason other cars share platforms)- BMW had even sold the CM platform to another company in hopes of squeezing out some more profits to help shelter MINI. 

      Oh… and who is going to complain if someone jokingly says- nice BMW to the cheaper MINI? No one. And unlike other “shared” platforms it is scalable and is not identical. Go look at the Ghost in a dealer and then look at the 7, the proportions aren’t the same- the Ghost even has a double firewall and larger everything. It is a brilliant system- having driven both they are different animals all together. 

      Like I have asked before- what brand are people going to drive other than MINI? No one ever answers because they’d directly contradict their own opinion. The usual answer I get from people I see is “I’ll just keep what I have”, sounds like drivers of the IROC-Z. :)

      Excerpt from BMW/MINI insider extraordinaire Herr26/Scott27 in response to my article at BF:

      “MINI in its current form is helped out by the option of personalization (MINI Yours) as profit margins are razor thin on its own. The combined MINI and BMW FWD will not only increase the profit margin but allow for expansion in the growing small city premium class.  By 2020 combined MINI and BMW FWD are expected to be averaging 600,000 units per year. The focus at BMW is simply on product and for that product that will give a return “

      • Dr Obnxs

        If I had to buy a small hatch today, I think I’d get the Golf R. It is easy to drive at it’s limits, and those limits are pretty respectable. I don’t keep anything stock, so I don’t really compare the way things are from the dealer. I don’t really care about the uniqueness, I’ve got cars that are extroverted and those that are vanilla. For me, it’s about function. And I agree, the gap between what MINI and that competion offer is getting smaller all the time.

        I don’t care that they get rid of a center speedo. I do care about the driving dynamics and the utility.

        Anyway, I’m fine with MINI doing what it needs to do to evolve to a profitable brand. They will still offer models that cater to those that were seduced by the MINI in 2001/2002, and if everything else makes a better business case to keep offering that, I’m all for it.

        There are many that moan that “the brand is being diluted” by whatever. I don’t think they really understand the economics of the brand. As long as this is the case, any action that isn’t in line with the original launch will be sacralige. For those that do understand the economics of the brand, and the evolution in the market, they will be happy as long as one of the models offered is one that they are wiling to buy.

  • slap slap

    If BMW wants to increase their market share, they need to improve their image of reliability.  I know of several people who wouldn’t consider a BMW or Mercedes in their decisions because of their reputation.


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MINI Model Cheat Sheet

1st Gen MINI
R50: One & MC Hatch
R52: All 1st Gen MINI Convt.
R53: MCS Hatch
2nd Gen MINI
R55: Clubman
R56: Hatch
R57: Convertible
R58: Coupe
R59: Roadster
R60: MINI Crossover
R61: MINI Crossover Coupe
3rd Gen MINI
F54: Clubman
F55: Five Door Hatch
F56: Hatch
F57: Convertible
F60: MINI Crossover
F58: Traveller

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MotoringFile Buyers Guides

R50 ('02-'06 MC) Buyers Guide
R53 ('02-'06 MCS) Buyers Guide

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MotoringFile Reviews

Reviews:
'12 JCW Coupe
'11 Fiat 500 Sport
'11 Tesla Roaster 2.5 '11 Countryman Comparo
'11 Cooper S Hatch
'11 Countryman MCS (FWD)
'11 Countryman MC (auto)
'10 Mayfair MCS (auto)
'11 Countryman MCS (ALL4)
'10 MINI E
'10 Tesla Roadster Sport
'09 Cooper S Convertible
'09 JCW Hatch
'09 JCW Clubman
JCW Stage I vs JCW Stage II
'08 Clubman S (Auto)
1st Drive: '08 MINI Clubman
'08 Smart Fourtwo
Comparison: '08 BMW 135i
'06 R53 MCS vs '07 R56 MCS
'07 R56 JCW (Stage 1)
'07 MINI Cooper S Long Term
'07 BMW Z4 M Coupe
'07 MINI Cooper & Cooper S
Audio: '07 MC/MCS at the Track
'06 JCW GP Long term
Reader Review: JCW GP
'06 JCW Cooper S Long Term
Comparison: '06 Lotus Elise
Comparison: '06 Mazda MX5
Comparison: '06 UK Focus ST
Comparison: '06 Civic Si
Comparison: '04 TVR T350
Comparison: '06 Nissan 350z
Comparison: '06 VW GTI w/DSG
Podcast: Cooper S Auto
Podcast: BMW 325i
Podcast: JCW MC Soundkit
'04 JCW MINI Cooper Tuning Kit
'05 MCS: One Month Review
'05 MCS Auto
'05 JCW S 1st Drive
'05 MINI Cooper
'05 MCS Conv. Long Term
'05 MINI Cooper S
'05 MCS Cabrio 1st Drive
'04 JCW MCS First Drive
'04 MC w/JCW Tuning Kit
BMW M3 SMG Vs. MCS
'04 MINI Cooper CVT
'02 MCS 3 year Review
Autocrossing the MINI Range


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