Official Release:: Today, MINI USA celebrates the Grand Opening of its second dealership in Washington, as the brand continues to grow its U.S. presence and expand its dealer network by 20 percent compared to 2008.

“The Seattle metropolitan area is one of MINI’s largest markets, and this facility will reinforce the brand’s presence and support additional sales growth in a market where MINI is well-known and successful,” said Jim McDowell, Vice President MINI USA. “MINI has established a solid base for the dealer network around the country, and we are now positioning additional facilities in existing markets with the most growth potential.”

The dealership, located close to the University of Washington and just six miles from downtown Seattle, is a renovated facility that previously housed another manufacturer’s sales outlet. Staying true to the brand’s values associated with MINIMALISM, re-using an existing facility allowed the MINI dealer to minimize the negative impact associated with building a brand new facility, save cost and re-energize an empty storefront. The site near the University is a prime location for the dealer to increase visibility with college students, a key MINI customer segment.

“The world is becoming more MINI every day, and consumer tastes are shifting decidedly to cars that offer tremendous value. The MINI brand is considered ageless, and its core traits are well-aligned with the demands of today’s customers,” said McDowell. “Our cars are not only fuel efficient, and offer great value, but they also provide a fun and dynamic motoring experience and are packed with personality.”

The 60,000 square foot facility, positioned on 1.1 acres, employs 30 staff members and can accommodate 19 vehicles on the two show floors, as well as an additional 45 vehicles on a rooftop lot. The dealership has an aggressive sales target for its first full year of business, as Seattle is one of the top 12 markets in the U.S.

Seattle MINI is owned by Manfred Scharmach, who has been part of the MINI and BMW family for years. He also owns two additional BMW Group sales outlets in Washington, Northwest MINI and BMW Northwest. The dealership is located at 11550 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98125-5328.

The Seattle MINI Grand Opening celebration begins at 6 PM today, and guests will enjoy local wines, food from local restaurant, Waterfront Seafood Grill and music by Seattle’s own, Doctor Funk. Special guests will include Jim O’Donnell, President BMW Group North America; Jim McDowell, Vice President MINI USA; Robert Frisch, Vice President BMW Group Western Region; as well as local celebrities and political leaders.

In the spirit of MINI’s giving back philosophy, Seattle MINI has selected a Motoring Hearts Partner, the Seattle Chapter of Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF), which will receive a donation from the event. Photos will be taken on the red carpet upon arrival that can be purchased online after the event and will generate a donation to CFF. Plus, all attendees will receive a coupon that can be presented during a new car purchase before December 31, 2009. For each coupon, Seattle MINI will donate $200 from the purchase to the Seattle CFF chapter. A Motoring Rally is also planned for the spring to continue Seattle MINI’s support for CFF.