MINI USA Press Release: Welcome to MINI! You will not be surprised to hear that I will be focusing on the new MINI today. We are convinced that the second MINI generation will continue the incredible success of the MINI brand based on the first-generation models!

But before going into detail, I would like to give you a short overview of last year’s retail figures. This is a tradition here at Detroit.

Once again, 2006 was a very successful year for MINI. During the sixth year of the model cycle, demand for the MINI remained as strong as in the years before – an exceptional achievement in this vehicle segment. And it sends a clear message: By launching the MINI, we have started a true success story.

Although global retail declined slightly in 2006 compared to the previous year – by 6.2 per cent to 188,000 vehicles, this decrease was not a problem of falling demand, but an entirely internal issue. Our production capacity was reduced temporarily as we expanded our production facilities last year. This allows us to increase maximum capacity from 200,000 to 240,000 units a year in the medium term.

As our British plant at Oxford runs a twenty-four / seven operation, construction measures obviously have a serious impact on production output. This explains why – despite the decline – we are absolutely satisfied with the 2006 retail. It clearly exceeded our internal forecasts.
Retail in the United States also goes 100 per cent according to plan. In 2006, we delivered a total of 39,000 MINI vehicles to American customers. So we are 4.3 per cent below the 2005 reference value. But you know the reason for that now.

The United States obviously has the potential to become our strongest global retail market for MINI. For the time being, this position is held by MINI’s home market, the UK. But the US is clearly on the fast track here. Driving a MINI, we have been pleased to find out, perfectly matches the “American Way of Life”.

Just as in recent years, the product mix in 2006 was simply remarkable: Just over 52 per cent of all MINIs sold on the American market were MINI Cooper S models. By way of comparison: Internationally, the share of this engine variant is 31 per cent.

Thanks to the increased production capacity at MINI Plant Oxford, we are determined to achieve a new MINI retail record as early as this year. One of the keys to success will be the contribution of the new MINI generation, which I am going to present to you in a moment. By the way, we also intend to achieve new retail records for the BMW Group’s two other brands.

As can be seen at first glance, the new MINI is again a true MINI. “From the Original to the Original” – that has been our designers’ motto. So they have chosen an evolutionary approach for the car body design. The new MINI is longer, but this is hardly noticeable as it retains the familiar proportions.

Changes to the interior, on the other hand, are downright revolutionary. Everything has been completely revised, and the intelligent design concept has helped to clearly arrange the cockpit instruments.

The first thing that will attract your attention when you get into the new MINI is the large Center speedometer. Compared to the former model, the range of functions in the instrumentation has been enhanced considerably. Moreover, a variety of new, innovative equipment features such as ambient interior lighting provide new dimensions of driving pleasure and convenience.

So with the new MINI, continuity of exterior design goes hand in hand with an entirely new car in terms of technology because the engines have been completely revised and optimized with state-of-the-art technologies.

The MINI Cooper S is now powered by a 1.6-liter turbo engine. With a power output of 172 HP, the vehicle reaches a top speed of 139 mph and needs no more than 6.7 seconds to go from zero to sixty.

The new MINI Cooper’s innovative naturally-aspirated engine also has a cubic capacity of 1.6 liters. This model goes from zero to sixty in 8.5 seconds and has a maximum speed of 126 mph. The new MINI offers this increase in performance – with improved fuel efficiency. Fuel efficiency for both models has increased compared to the predecessor models, with the new MINI Cooper achieving an impressive 40 miles per gallon in highway driving according to US EPA testing.

We have further enhanced the unique go-cart feeling by optimizing not only the engines, but also the chassis, the steering and the braking system. These improvements are supported by the standard 6-speed transmissions and the optional 6-speed automatic transmissions.

In Europe, the new MINI hit the dealerships a few weeks ago. And it has already become vastly popular. In the United States, the vehicle will arrive at MINI showrooms, February 17th.

As you will see in a moment, the new MINI has everything it needs to continue the brand’s success story.

In July 2001, when we launched the MINI, it was the first premium vehicle in the small car segment, and it has remained the only one to this day. Competitors might be trying to emulate our success. But its product substance, safety features, design and not to mention its typical driving characteristics make the MINI an absolutely unique vehicle.

And these characteristics I have just mentioned for the first-generation MINI models will remain true for the second generation.

With all of this excitement happening at MINI, the idea of making the existing MINI convertible even more attractive for 2007 pretty much suggested itself.

I am therefore delighted to present to you today not only the new MINI Cooper and Cooper S, but also a new special variant of the MINI Convertible: The new MINI Convertible Sidewalk!

The MINI Convertible has made a lot of fans in the United States. Since its launch, we have sold about 26,000 units here. This makes the US – apart from Great Britain – our largest market for the MINI Convertible.

I am absolutely sure that the MINI Convertible Sidewalk will also find a lot of buyers here. Its package equipment is truly exceptional, featuring an exclusive interior, unique alloy wheels and distinctive details. The MINI Convertible Sidewalk will be available from mid-April.

And here they are – the three new members of the MINI family!

I invite you to come up and have a closer look at the special features that make the new MINI hardtops and the MINI Convertible Sidewalk real “eye-catchers”.
Thank you for your attention and have a lot of fun with MINI!