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, 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.