MINI USA Sales Up a Staggering 42% for February

MINI USA sales shot through the roof for February up 42.3% compared to the same month in 2017. But there’s something even more interesting than the numbers here.

Mini USA sales

The main reason for the dramatic sales increase is the continued success of the Countryman which wasn’t in wide distribution at this time last year. In total MINI USA saw 3,065 vehicles sold, an increase of 42.3 percent from the 2,154 sold in the same month a year ago.

But something else happened in February that’s never happened in MINIUSA’s history. The Countryman not only outsold the F56 hatch but the F56 hatch an F55 four door COMBINED. Yet another sign that the US market is continuing to move towards crossovers at the expense of small cars.

  • It’s tough to take the numbers in context of last year because the new F60 Countryman hadn’t hit dealers in full force until late Feb/early March of last year. That being said, 2018 vs. 2016, sales were still down 1.2% – basically flat over 2 years in the first two months. Does this seem to signal that 2017 was the bottom and sales are on the rise? Maybe. But with expected interest rate hikes projected for later this year, the American car market is set to take a big hit, once again, for 2018. On top of interest rate hikes this year, a projected 3.6 million cars will flood the U.S. market as they come off-lease. That’s an 8% increase over the previous year. This is a double-edged sword for dealers as they can make more profit off the pre-owned cars but that’s at the expense of new car sales volume. On top of that, as previously noted here on MF, service departments are slowing down because MINI has hit a new stride in reliability and the new generation of cars are “breaking down a lot less than they used to.” This is a good thing because greater quality and reliability should drive sales upward but it’s taking time. The reality is that many dealers will survive on pre-owned sales this year while they anxiously await new car sales to start creeping back up.

    The really good news is that MINI is currently making the best cars they’ve ever made in terms of quality, handling and offering the latest technology (4G features, CarPlay etc.) What I keep hearing from current and past customers in the USA is that (with exception of the Countryman) until some of the exterior design issues are resolved (cough – front end – cough) they are still reluctant to buy a new MINI.

    • Gary

      Not only the forgettable exterior design shortcomings, but it’s obvious MINI isn’t marketing to my demographic anymore. I still feel part of the “Not Normal” crowd. The catch phrases appearing in today’s advertising (e.g., “Loves to Plough”…”Dust for Dinner”…”To The Outback”…”Widest Receiver”…”Road Ends”…etc.) are clearly meant for a buying public of which I am not a part.

      • Hey Gary – curious about your take. Does marketing that doesn’t speak your language turn you off from buying?

        • StinkChink

          Most certainly! If it’s in another language I can’t understand what they’re saying!

        • Gary

          I’d say it’s a combination of the two aforementioned factors. The design has morphed toward a car that is more mainstream, better built, and intended to appeal to a broader audience (and if that sells more cars, it’s perfectly understandable). We’ve evolved away from unique, quirky, and simple elegance and concurrently the perception of us owners being different and perhaps a bit rebellious. The design changes make me feel as if the things that originally made me fall in love with the brand aren’t a priority anymore. The marketing simply reinforces that perception.

    • Agree with everything above. The new MINIs are such great cars that it’s fairly ironic that sales have lagged. It goes to show how much is out of their control.

      One thing of note – in talking with folks from MINI this past week they felt quietly confident in the months and years ahead. They also noted that MINI is down but less down than the entire small car segment.

      All that said I would love to have known what sales would have been with a more attractive lower bumper and 4″ less front overhang. The latter would have been insanely expensive to engineer (and still meet pedestrian safety regs) but it would be interesting to know none the less.

      • ulrichd

        Would it have really been that expensive to at least clean up the lower front bumper design on the Cooper S in the upcoming mid-cycle refresh? We have another 4 years with the current look right?

        • Eric

          In contrary of what you think, the vast majority like the Cooper S bumper design

        • Gary

          I’d like to see some objective evidence supporting this “vast majority” claim. In my local circle this is far from accurate.

        • ulrichd

          The vast majority? LOL

        • Eric

          You can keep your appreciation sour and in the same time the sales grow and grow and grow all over the world. Life goes on.

        • Nick Dawson

          It’s going to be nearer to five years rather than four. The first of the new generation MINIs, the F56 replacement ‘MINI Metro Runner’ is not due until 2023, and the reinvented Clubman replacement, the ‘MINI Metro Cruiser’ in early 2024, and a smaller SUV, the ‘MINI Metro Adventurer’ in late 2024. Don’t be surprised to see one more refresh, in the meantime, on the F55/F56/F57.

        • There will be one more refresh. That’s one of the reasons that this LCI was so minor.

      • John McLauchlan

        With the F56 LCI, I’m left wondering why there was nothing done with the front bumper, at least for the US market. Gen 1 and Gen 2 both offered an after-sales “aero kit” body which was different than the factory version. That is missing from this generation, and would have been a way to provide an alternative look. Something more simple and refined.

        • That’s the JCW aerokit

        • John McLauchlan

          Referring to the MINI Aero Kit which existed for the first two generations, but is missing from the current lineup. It would provide another “look” if offered on then F56.

          For example, R56 had Cooper, S, MINI Aero, and JCW Aero options. 4 different looks. The F56 has one less option.

          http://www.motoringfile.com/2007/02/02/the-mini-aero-kit-first-offical-photos/

        • Yes – MINI has more or less replaced that alternative look with the JCW aerokit for the F56. FYI the R56 factory aerokit was a mistake because designers couldn’t agree on which one they liked and the BMW accountants let it slip through.

  • Nick Dawson

    Actually, February 2018 is the second month in a row that the Countryman has outsold the combined sales of the F55/F56 Hardtop.

    Last month, however, was even more remarkable in that the Countryman – for the first time ever – outsold the combined sales of ALL of its siblings.

    MINI USA TOTAL SALES JAN ’18 vs FEB ’18

    Hardtop 2dr 0645 vs 0715 Hardtop 4dr 0368 vs 0434 Clubman — 0238 vs 0290 Convertible- 0201 vs 0269 Combined- 1,452 vs 1,708

    Countryman 1,485 vs 1,357

  • CA-MINI

    I think the sales uptick is good news, because as a MINI enthusiast, more sales is good for the brand, period. Here’s my personal concern though. The sales hike is almost exclusively being driven by the new Countryman, a model that trends away from many of the elements of MINI core DNA, a model that IMO is barely a MINI (not a bad car but too big, too heavy, too BMW—and yes I have test driven one) Does the sales success convince BMW to travel further toward what the Countryman is, and further away from the MINI core DNA???? I am concerned. As many commented I want to see an investment in having the Hardtop styling cleaned up, especially the front end. Sooner than later. There was talk of doing a crossover style variant of the current 4door hardtop–which I think would be very interesting—Does this still happen or is it deemed too small to be marketable in the USA and therefore not worth the development costs. Interested what others think on this

    • R.O.

      Porsche faced the same situation. They sell more Cayenne and Macan’s than 911 & Cayman’s. But because of that, Porsche can keep making 911’s and like. If MINI sells lots of Countryman’s which allows them to keep making F56’s and the Convertible (& JCW’s of both) – I’m good with that. I feel that the Clubman (at least in the US) isn’t going to sell for various reasons & should possible be discontinued. Also not sure about the 5-door (F55) Hardtop. The F55 may be the between’er for those that don’t want the F56 nor the Countryman, but want 4 doors (5 door hatch).

      • CA-MINI

        Porsche is a good analogy–If MINI mirrors Porsche’s activities I’m good