February Unkind to MINI USA Sales

There’s no nice way to put it. February was brutal to MINI USA. Sales dropped 24% compared to 2016. This is in a total light vehicle market that overall was down only 1.1%. To rub salt into the wound, Matt’s MINI Index was up almost 7% Heck, if Fiat had sold 9 more cars or MINI 9 less, the two brands would have delivered the same number of units! The only bright spots are the Clubman and the Convertible. Even the Countryman sales tanked, shipping less than 200 units for the month.

Yes, the new Countryman should help sales, but this month hurt. It had seemed that MINI had stabilized at a smaller, but consistent volume. In January, MINI’s US dealership group thought brand awareness was lagging. Just over a week ago, there was a shake-up in Marketing. We said we didn’t know what was behind the move at the time. February’s numbers provide a very good explanation.

What do you think? Will changes in marketing increase sales? Will the new Countryman save MINI’s day? Sound off in the comments!

Official News: Woodcliff Lake, NJ – March 1, 2017…

MINI Brand Sales For February, MINI USA reported 2,154 automobiles sold, a decrease of 24.1 percent from the 2,839 sold in the same month a year ago. Year-to-date, MINI USA reported a total of 5,264 automobiles sold, a decrease of 13.4 percent from 6,077 automobiles sold in the first two months of 2016.

MINI Pre-Owned Vehicles

  • In February, MINI Certified Pre-Owned sold 873 vehicles, a decrease of 16.5 percent from February 2016.
  • Total MINI Pre-Owned sales set a February record with 2,413 vehicles in February 2017, an increase of 8.2 percent from February 2016.
  • Total MINI Pre-Owned sales year-to-date were 4,600, a 12.6 percent increase from the first two months of 2016.
  • Nick Dawson

    2017 YTD, the R60 Countryman was the second best selling MINI in the US, despite being the oldest MINI and production ceasing in mid-December. Make no mistake about it, the new F60 Countryman is the trump card in MINI USA’s marketing game plan, and will make MINI USA great again.

    F56 Hardtop 2dr 1,336 R60 Countryman 1,310 F54 Clubman 1,087 F55 Hardtop 4dr 954 F57 Convertible 574 R61 Paceman 3

    • ConcernedCitizen

      Does anyone else remember when the R56 sold more cars in one month than the F56 is going to sell this entire year?

      • Nick Dawson

        Does anyone else remember how close the BMW board came to closing down MINI. R-Series MINIs made little money for BMW, and R50/53 made no money at all. All that changed with the launch of R60 which was the most profitable R-Series model.

        The success and profitability of R60 – which took BMW by surprise – was the tipping point that persuaded the board to invest in the F-Series MINI, sharing its scalable platform with sister BMW models. F-Series MINIs now make big money.

        • ConcernedCitizen

          Platform sharing is fine, VW does it quite well and each model on the MQB platform has its own character. BMW has in general completely lost their magic touch to steering tuning, suspension tuning and design. However, just because a model may be “profitable” (evidence of MINI profit is nowhere to be found, especially NOT now in the US) doesn’t mean it’s a better product. They could’ve kept the exact same driving characteristics, zesty exhaust note, real engine noise instead of turning to the stereo, great brakes, etc. Every model since the last Exx or R5x left the factory has had the worst brakes. During my test drives of the new MINIs the brake pedal was hard as a rock, had to pushed so much more to get the same effect as before and definitely wasn’t as good as before in stopping distance. Just look at the comparison in acceleration, braking, and ultimately placing in this review… http://www.motortrend.com/cars/volkswagen/gti/2015/comparison-four-fun-sporty-runabouts-under-30000/

          I would love to see MINI make a comeback, and BMW for that matter, but they’ve got to go back to basics. Maybe BMW will finally catch on that people liked their cars the way they were more so than the way they are now. BMW and MINI both were improving sales until their lineups became so boring and uninspired

        • Nick Dawson

          I have no quarrel with much of your comments, but would take issue with your following comment:

          “However, just because a model may be “profitable” (evidence of MINI profit is nowhere to be found, especially NOT now in the US) doesn’t mean it’s a better product”.

          The point here CC, is that if a car is not profitable, it is pointless producing it. Car makers are not charitable organisations. The most expensive part of any car is the R&D cost of its platform. MINI was producing around 250k units a year off the R-Series platform. In 2016, an all-time record 361k units of F-Series MINIs were sold worldwide, plus a similar quantity of BMW 2-Series and the X1, off the same UKL platform.

          MINI is expected to sell around 400k worldwide this year with the help of the F60, and with the addition of the 2018 BMW 1-Series, more than 1m units per annum are projected. As a result, the cost per unit drops dramatically, and the selling price per unit has risen, with the move upmarket.

          Bear in mind, MINI is a global product, and global sales are booming. The VW Polo, a highly respected Supermini and a direct competitor for MINI in Europe, has never been marketed in the US, because VW knew it could never do so profitably. Should MINI USA sales continue to fall, BMW is a ruthlessly realistic company, and will not hesitate to withdraw MINI from the US market if necessary.

        • J_Luis

          MINI isn’t going to get back to basics, because a small basic car does not sell (see Smart and Fiat numbers) in the current market.

          Part of MINI’s problem could be that there has been very little marketing informing customers how premium these cars are: the perception is that these cars are STILL basic.

          Having driven both R-Series and F-Series MINIs, the F-Series is superior in nearly every way. Exhaust note is better, brakes are better, steering is better, suspension tuning is better for city roads.

          That same MotorTend article that you linked to claims that the GTI has the best steering among the cars in that test, which is… well, laughable. The GTI is a great car, but the steering is widely-acknowledged to be the chink in its armor especially in the company of at least two other cars that have pretty great steering (F56, Civic SI).

  • thomas.s.pangborn

    Seems like the Clubman was doing fine in the honeymoon phase of its introduction, as I am sure the Countryman will do the same. Pricing is up quite a bit from previous years for the newer models, which I believe is the biggest sticking point for MINI. One may also say that performance, compared to competitors in this space, leaves a bit to be desired. I personally love the packaging of the entire new line-up. If folks would actually test drive a vehicle or rent one for a weekend they would realize, they don’t need the fastest vehicle on paper to really enjoy a MINI. they are so fun to drive. My wife and daughter have 2012 and 2008 MINI Cooper Hardtop respectively. I am waiting on my lease of a lesser vehicle to expire before heading into a new Countryman. Good luck in the future. I hope Brexit does not change the landscape much with your brand.

  • oldsbear

    When you devalue the element of spirited fun, you make the MINI just another car.

    • ConcernedCitizen

      The F generation never had anything in the way of fun to drive dynamics or the value proposition of the first two generations. When I drove the F56 S it felt like I was driving a slightly faster Toyota Corolla in a different body. It didn’t feel special, it didn’t have the great brake feel, laser focused steering or confidence inspiring firm suspension of the first two generations. I hated pretty much everything about the way it looked too and the new B48 engine didn’t feel as strong. It was a dud to me, and far behind the R53 or R56 (or its competition GTI, Focus ST, Fiesta ST, etc…) I know those cars are larger but they compete pricewise. It just wasn’t special anymore and the price has morphed into BMW territory but it moved down into Toyota-level excitement.

      • Besides more feedback through the wheel, more torque and less weight (when compared with identically equipped cars, you’re right.

        • ConcernedCitizen

          Except for the fact these so called “gains” are not real…

          https://www.northamericanmotoring.com/forums/attachments/drivetrain-cooper-s/94388d1402449967-n18-vs-b48-mini_comparo.jpg

          And the “improved steering feel” is highly subjective. I find the new setup to be as full as anything BMW puts in their own models, which is to say completely numb. The lower weight theory also doesn’t hold snuff as the Cooper S in US spec is heavier than before, has a much fuller figure and doesn’t drive with the same zest as before. If this had been such a drastic improvement I don’t think I nor the rest of the American population would have jumped ship…

          The old MINIs were wonderful and a blast to drive, but the new MINIs feel like any other pedestrian vehicle that you could find at your nearest Avis lot. The interior was no improved in many facets and to tens of thousands of other former owners, it lost what was uniquely charming. BMW is in the pursuit of vanilla to go after mass market share. Their passion has switched from performance-driven to keeping up with the Joneses (aka Toyota/Lexus) to try to broaden their appeal. Gone are the days of free flowing exhaust, super heavy steering with real feel, taut body control, and now even BMW has eaten crow and rolled out Fwd in their own lineup. To me, MINI has to wake up and smell the coffee. We were their largest market until this generation. Their sales were growing up until this point, and it’s not a coincidence or change of market focus that has led to this continued and sharp downturn in sales. It’s the product their selling.

        • Eric

          Right answer Gabriel 😉

      • glangford

        You are right about morphing into BMW territory price wise. A clubman S with 4 wheel drive lightly specced is approaching or exceeding BMW X1 territory. It’s not the premium small car value proposition anymore.

        On a positive note, I recently saw that mini has arisen from near dead last in dependability that it achieved during the R56 run to a respectable middle of the pact in the last JD Power 2017 vehicle dependability ratings. (they were slightly better than industry average. So kudos there. I got rid of my R56 hardtop. It was the only car I’ve ever had that literally left me stranded a couple of times.

        But other than a stripped no option 2 door hardtop, Mini is hardly a value proposition anymore.

  • Bob Lavoie

    I expect the new F60 will be a big positive in those number during the up coming months & beyond. Since deliveries of that model only began here in the US over the past few weeks/month along with fewer remaining ‘new’ R60’s, it may take a bit more time to wind up the results of the new F60 sales. Meanwhile, I expect to be taking delivery of my own F60 S All4 within the next 2 weeks.