Automotive News recently interviewed Jason Willis, chairman of the Mini National Dealer Council on the group’s outlook for the brand. The key takeaway from the interview is that there’s a big opportunity with MINI as a small car brand in the US. To put plainly, he sees an opportunity for greater MINI USA sales as the brand becomes more unique in offering small cars in the US market.
With direct competitors such as the Volkswagen Beetle being discontinued, and Ford, General Motors and other automakers paring car lineups and leaning on SUVs and crossovers, Mini has a chance to start rebuilding its volume, says Willis, dealer principal at Mini of Des Moines in Iowa.
Additionally this is also an opportunity to “slightly reposition the brand with sticker prices closer to actual transaction prices”, according to Willis.
Dealer Wishlist: Something Larger Than the Countryman
We’ve heard this for years but one thing dealers are clamoring for is a larger crossover with more rear space.
“One of the things we noticed with our guests is that they buy the car when they are in their 20s when they are single or newly married. Then they have kids, and the back seat space just gets a little too tight. Then we lose our guests until they become empty nesters,” he said. “If we could get something a little bigger than the Countryman … I believe we would be able to keep a lot more of our family-stage customers.”
MINI Sales & Realistic Pricing
Willis goes on to say that the Oxford Edition of the F56 Hardtop, which starts at at $20,600, including shipping, “is an example of how the brand’s 117 U.S. dealers can sell premium small cars profitably.”
“If there is anything pushing the Mini owner away, it’s the MSRP,” he said. “It has been pushed too far up the scale, and I believe that is one of the biggest things that the council is working on, getting the MSRP of the vehicles at the price where they are actually selling, not with discounts and incentives but what the Mini brand is retailing at.”
Will dealers get all that they need? We do know that a larger MINI is coming (slotted above the current Countryman) and that MINI USA is seeing success with the value priced Oxford Editions (having recently released a Countryman version). If anything what Willis speaks to in this interview very much hints at the future of the brand in the US. Yes the core hardtop should get slightly smaller in its next generation. But the core of MINI USA is quickly moving to slightly larger crossovers with value priced editions to keep younger customers with small families in the brand.