On the eve of the US debut of the Countryman (at the NYC Auto Show in a few weeks) the WSJ took a look back and a look ahead at the MINI brand and it’s surprising success in the US market. It’s a fascinating take on the MINI story by a relative outsider to the automotive world let alone the MINI world. Here’s an excerpt:
>â€œIt was like a mission for me,â€ says Jack Pitney, who was BMWâ€™s North American corporate communications chief at the time. â€œHere was the most successful car in U.K. history, with an uninterrupted production run of 40 years. It needed to be on our roads.â€ The numbers were against him. â€œAll the classical research said there was no market,â€ Pitney says. â€œThe Mini brand had less than 1 percent recognition in the U.S.â€
>His pitch to BMW was that the Mini shouldnâ€™t be marketed as a tiny British hatchback, but instead as a small European sports car with retro flair. Finally, the company gave the North American office a pittance to launch with: around 1/20th of BMWâ€™s North American marketing budget. Still, Pitney promised big, telling his superiors he could move 20,000 cars easily. (BMWâ€™s Z3 roadsterâ€”its most successful sports car everâ€”sold 19,600 the year it hit the market.) â€œWe thought we were hanging it way out there. American cars were getting biggerâ€”the Hummer H2 was just coming outâ€”and here we were bringing the smallest car to the market and charging a premium for it,â€ Pitney says.
You can read the entire article here:
+ Miniâ€™s Small Victory / WSJ