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Official Release: Speech by Ian Robertson, member of the board of management of BMW AG, MINI Press Conference at the 2009 NAIAS.

Welcome to the North American International Auto Show 2009! And welcome to our MINI stand!

The world is becoming more MINI – with the United States leading the way. Americans have truly fallen in love with the MINI. MINI has proven that small cars can also be premium.

Last year we sold more than 54,000 MINIs here in the US. That’s an impressive 29 percent more than the year before. That makes the United States MINI’s largest single market, accounting for nearly a quarter of global sales.

Worldwide we sold a total of 232,000 MINIs – which translates into 4 percent more driving fun. I am delighted to be able to present two very special MINIs to you today – especially since one of them is making its world premiere!

Let me start with the MINI E, which is the first result of project i at the BMW Group.
With the MINI E, we are the world’s first premium manufacturer deploying a fleet of fully electric-powered cars for private use in daily traffic in the United States and Germany. This vehicle is a project designed to demonstrate a whole new dimension of individual mobility:

– The MINI E is entirely emission-free.
– It is driver-friendly and ideal for everyday.
– The MINI E is just as much fun to drive as a MINI with a combustion engine.

We are certain that the MINI E is the ideal car for metropolitan areas. The vehicle offers customers a range of 156 miles, which will enable people living in large cities all around the world to be able to commute to work – in a way that is both environmentally-friendly and efficient. Then, in the evening, you just have to recharge your MINI E in your garage.

For example, a customer could easily drive from the Cobo Center around the whole of Lake St. Clair without having to recharge the vehicle.

The lithium-ion battery can be fully recharged in just two and a half hours.
Besides having an extensive range, the MINI E’s performance also makes it fun to drive. The MINI E’s electric motor with 201 horsepower accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in just 8.5 seconds – and doesn’t stop until it reaches 95 mph.

500 US customers are and will be testing the MINI E in normal traffic conditions in and around Los Angeles and New York City. We will also be testing MINI E cars in Berlin, Germany.

We want to learn more about electric drive from our customers’ first-hand experiences. We deliberately chose the American market for this purpose because American drivers are keen to become even more environmentally aware. We are confident that this is not just a short-term phenomenon, but rather a reassessment of purchase criteria. For this, the MINI E project is perfect for such testing.

Some of you may be wondering why we have brought the winter inside. The answer simply is: Because we want to show you that driving with the top down can be fun in any weather.

Allow me to present our world premiere. Out of the ice: the new MINI Convertible!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Here we have the latest edition of an absolute icon. We have sold more than 164,000 of the previous model since its launch in 2004 – about a quarter of these were sold in the USA.

The MINI Convertible has exceeded our expectations by far – and those of our customers as well.

The new MINI Convertible is more focussed than ever on the fun of driving under the open sky. “Always Open” is the motto of the new MINI Convertible.

Always Open – for this very reason we developed an Always Open timer for our customers so that they can keep track of how long they have been driving with the top down.

Of course, high-performance engines also play an important part in the driving fun. When sales begin in late March, we will be offering two engine options:

– the MINI Cooper Convertible with 118 horsepower;
– or the MINI Cooper S Convertible with 172 horsepower.

Both are equipped with the latest generation of 4-cylinder gasoline engines. Front-wheel drive guarantees the brand’s signature go-cart feeling. But above all they are unbeatably efficient.

The new MINI Convertible’s wide range of features to optimize fuel economy and minimize emissions comes as a standard. This is called Minimalism – which is realized through our EfficientDynamics measures.

CO2 emissions and fuel-consumption are 22 percent lower than the previous model. The new MINI Cooper Convertible produces only 137 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

As always, the MINI design is not only aesthetically pleasing – it is also highly functional. The new MINI Convertible manages to look good and is practical to drive on a daily basis.

We have retracted the one-piece rollover bar – so that it now only deploys automatically if needed. This feature makes it easier for drivers to have a complete view of behind.

But, most importantly, we have made the opening for loading significantly bigger than other vehicles of this size. The rear seat backs can be folded down separately or locked in place.

This gives the trunk an increased volume of up to 23.1 cubic feet…
…and makes the MINI Convertible easy to load and flexible as well.

Individuality plays a major role for the new MINI Convertible. As with any MINI, customers can choose from a wide range of finishes, colours and options to create their own personalized MINI. The custom-painted “Interchange Yellow” is exclusive to the MINI Convertible.

The new MINI Convertible proves that the MINI brand is well and thriving, even as it turns 50! As you can see at our stand today, the MINI brand is only getting better and better with age. And we would like to invite you to celebrate MINI’s birthday with us at the third MINI United Festival at Silverstone in the UK from 22nd-24th May.

I hope you enjoy yourselves and find plenty to interest you at the MINI stand. I welcome you all now to join me on the stage to view the new MINI Convertible.