BMW Group sales boss Pieter Nota (speaking to Automotive News recently) said that BMW knows turning around MINI USA will require new products and fresh offerings. More specifically we’re talking about new MINI crossovers and updates hardtops.
Nota went into to say, “That’s a growing segment,” Nota added, avoiding specific pro. “Without revealing anything, we will see growth in that segment.”
As MF readers likely have seen in recent sales figures, MINI customers are ditching small cars for crossovers. Automotive News calls this an existential crisis for the brand and we’d be inclined to agree given its heritage.
Digging into the data further Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting at LMC Automotive states, “there is a core buyer for Mini now, and that group is not growing. So moving into this segment could attract new buyers.
Yet most brands have made the move into crossovers of various shape and size. “Porsche is a good example of success in stretching a brand into the crossover segment.”
And crossovers are continuing to grow account for 38 percent of the U.S. light-vehicle market last year, up from 27 percent five years ago. During the same period, the small car market shrank to 12 percent from 18 percent. Unsurprisingly the Countryman is the best selling MINI to date for MINI USA.
Nota went on to say that Mini is an “iconic brand” and will have a leading role in the luxury small-car segment, he said. “We are optimistic that with the new models that will come‚ including the Mini Electric, but also John Cooper Works, we can see a healthy future for the Mini brand in the U.S.,” Nota said.
This is all while other automakers are eliminating small cars from their US market plans. Yet Nota told Automotive News that the competition’s capitulation as a way to consolidate market share.
“Unlike some of our competitors, we are not turning our back to the U.S.,” Nota said. “We see that even as an opportunity.”