MINI USA Kills the Clubvan

Due to low sales MINI USA has killed the Clubvan in the US. The reason is simple and something we questioned over a year ago when US sales were announced; the Chicken Tax. The tax added 25% onto the total cost of the car making the Clubvan decidedly uncompetitive in a market where price matters greatly. The resulting sales were abysmal at best with a total of 52 sold since March of this year. Those figures make the Clubvan the rarest MINI variant ever sold in the US.

So what exactly is the Chicken Tax? Here’s the official Wikipedia definition:

The chicken tax is a 25% tariff on potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light trucks imposed in 1963 by the United States under President Lyndon B. Johnson in response to tariffs placed by France and West Germany on importation of U.S. chicken.The period from 1961–1964 of tensions and negotiations surrounding the issue, which took place at the height of Cold War politics, was known as the “Chicken War”.

Eventually, the tariffs on potato starch, dextrin, and brandy were lifted,[4] but over the next 48 years the light truck tax ossified, remaining in place to protect U.S. domestic automakers from foreign light truck production (e.g., from Japan and Thailand). Though concern remains about its repeal, a 2003 Cato Institute study called the tariff “a policy in search of a rationale.”

RIP Clubvan. We hardly knew you.

  • AMS

    Shame, but totally understandable.

  • smyers528

    I think there were only 50 WC50 JCW’s sold in the US, edging the Clubvan out by 2….

  • Kurtster

    Wish I had one. I love rare MINIs. 🙂

  • scotteast

    My local dealer has one of these on the lot, and others probably do, too, so I assume the final ‘sold’ number will be higher than 52. It think it’s a great concept, and if I were a business owner, I’d certainly buy one.

    • Donald Griffin

      who is your local dealer?

  • b-

    Not surprised at all, they couldn’t price it very well at all because of the chicken tax. The good news is that you can buy a Clubman and remove the seats, add some vinyl and you have a cheaper version.

    Gabe, any part numbers for the interior bits, the lateral panels and cargo floor?

  • asdf

    police dept should pick them up and put in back seats with the crown vic out now… and it already has a cage 😛

  • IowaM1N1

    “…official Wikipedia definition…” 🙂

    • Bob Hayhurst

      …and we all know the officiality of Wikipedia… 🙂

  • I was at my dealership recently and in the showroom was a GP parked next to a Goodwood next to a Clubvan and I commented that these are probably three of the rarest production MINIs you’ll find (at least at the moment). I guess I wasn’t wrong! (@smyers528:disqus had a point about the WC50 being in the same company)

    • Donald Griffin

      who is your local dealer? Im thinking of purchasing one

      • I saw the Clubvan at Herb Chambers MINI in Boston, MA in late June. Give them a call!

  • mart.

    Wouldn’t a Country Clubman be a better size?

  • Frank Granados

    Fleets are a very different kettle of fish where operation costs per mile, ease of service, accesability to spare parts and round the clock support are vital considerations for commercial vehicles. I am afraid that the Clubvan could not anything more than a “Boutique” commercial vehicle restricted to very few operators or fairly small businesses.

    The commercial vehicle market is currently being curbed by Freightliner (Chrysler), GM, Nissan and Ford will their all new Transit and Transit connect vans. Whomever made the decision to bring the Clubvan to the US market had a very poor business plan to begin with. It goes to show that not eveything embossed with the MINI logo is going to fly out the door, just because.

  • Rich

    These things are like rocking horse sh_t in the UK. Only two Clubvan One Autos were registered!newreg

  • Frank Granados

    A novel idea that should have never left the concept floor. And again, because it says “MINI” on it, doesn’t make it into an instant sales success.

    • b-

      On the other hand, just because it is not a success in the USA doesn’t mean it flopped everywhere.

      • Exactly. This died because of the massive import tax, not because it was a bad idea.

        • Frank Granados

          How come Ford can bring their Transit vans here then? Aren’t they European built?

        • They cheat and “build” the car at the US port.

        • Frank Granados

          And they didn’t know this? The apologism here is amazing!

        • We’ve been questioning the decision to bring the Clubvan over since day one due the law and the economics. In fact we told a few people at MINI USA who weren’t aware of the law early last year when we were told it was coming to the US.

          So to recap:

          • We questioned the decision
          • We informed MINI USA
          • We wrote about the issue on MF
          • And finally we’re officially not surprised to see it go.

          Not sure how this the sign of an apologist organization.

        • Also not sure how my pointing out how Ford gets around the rules with the Transit makes us apologists either.

        • Frank Granados

          I am not sure how it does either.

        • Frank Granados

          Hubris won here over sound business reasoning. Not surprising.

        • Hubris nothing. MINI USA got caught off guard by a little-known and esoteric tax from the Johnson Administration. The Clubvan will continue to sell elsewhere in the world.

        • Frank Granados

          See and then you say you are not apologetic. Look, BMW didn’t start selling cars in the US yesterday. They have been doing it for over 4 decades and you tell me they had no idea about the “Chicken Tax”? I love BMW as much as the next enthusiasts, but like any human driven organization they will make mistakes here and there. This was one of them.

        • We talked about this on WRR for next week’s show. No, MINI USA didn’t know about the chicken tax. BMW is a small company and they don’t sell any other commercial vehicles. That’s not apologetics, that’s just how it happened.

        • I’m sure a few did and a few didn’t. I remember personally asking a few of them about it and the look on their faces clearly indicated that they weren’t aware of it. Not sure how I can be anymore clear.

        • Chuck Jr
  • MINI Dealer UK

    YEY… More Clubvans for the UK.

  • Donald Griffin

    where can i find one?

  • beken

    Just noticed the Clubvan is on the MINI Canada website.

    As for Ford’s transit, my understanding is they ship to the US with windows and then once on American soil, they replace the windows with steel panels.