How Important is the US Market for MINI and Will We See More New Models? We went to the source A sat down for an interview with BMW Board Member Jochen Goller to get answers.

With MINI USA sales down substantially from their high of 66,502 in 2013, some industry experts have questioned BMW’s long term commitment for MINI in the US market. MINI USA and its dealers will readily tell you that they’re not chasing volume sales these days and are focused more on selling profitably (which appears to be successful). But we wanted to go straight to the top and get answers from one of the people responsible for it all.

Jochen Goller has been with the BMW Group since 1999 and has spent more than ten years with the company in the UK and China in various, also cross-brand functions. He oversaw the MINI brand globally from 2013 to 2015 and has been successfully managing the activities in the China region since. But most importantly (for us) he was promoted to the BMW Board overseeing sales of all BMW Group brands including MINI. In other words if you wanted to understand BMW’s plans for the MINI brand (present and future), there might be no one better to speak with.

Our time with Mr. Goller was brief, so after some pleasantries (and a personal invite to MTTS) we wanted to start straight away with the question many of you have been asking.


MotoringFile: With sales consistently down from the 2013 high, is MINI committed to the US market?

Jochen Goller: “We will not give up on the US. It’s a critical market for us”. 

MF: Fair enough. But can MINI grow in the market now that range has shrunk (Clubman product ceased earlier this month) and there’s no formal plan yet for the J01 MINI Cooper or the J05 MINI Aceman?

JG: We want to see success in US but have to work on the right strategy. We have to get it right. We want to see growth and that has to be done by offering both ICE and EV MINIs. Maybe until the tipping point for EVs. At the moment we’re moving towards that window early 2030s

The electric J01 MINI Cooper will begin production in China but will expand to the UK in 2026.

MF: With production expanding to the Oxford plant in 2026, will we see the J01 Cooper and J05 Aceman come to the North American market?

JG: For now it is too early to say. 

MF: Is there a time frame when we should expect an announcement?

JG: I would say later this year we might have more for you.

MF: Moving on to a MINI that we know is coming to the US market – let’s talk about the new petrol F66 MINI Cooper. Was this MINI designed primarily for the US market due to slow EV adoption?

JG: No there are many markets that are adopting EVs at different paces and we wanted to offer MINIs no matter what your preference is. For instance Norway has a new car EV market share of 95% while in Poland that’s only 5%. So we currently see the same disparity in Europe as well.

The BMW Vision Neue Klasse – a preview of the all electric 3 Series that will be based on the Neue Klasse EV architecture

MF: Let’s talk about the future of MINI production globally. Given that the BMW Neue Klasse EV platform is intended to underpin most cars sold by BMW Group, could it allow MINIs to be produced in other BMW plants globally such as Spartanburg in the US?

JG: Each plant will continue to be focused on platforms or variations of platforms. For example Spartanburg is specifically designed to handle large SAVs (BMW speak for crossovers) while Leipzig builds the new Countryman next its siblings the BMW X1 and X2. This focus on common platforms allows us to advantage each plant’s unique aspects and the local manufacturing supply chain. 

The 2016 MINI Clubman Scrambler Concept.

MF: One final question for you – and this one is a very different topic. In the US there’s a real movement towards off-road packages in everything from Suburus to Porsches. We also see this in the aftermarket on all cars including MINIs. Will we see anything offered officially by MINI in this area?

JG: This is also a segment we have observed. We always look at customer segmentation and we too see the rise of off road capabilities offered by other manufacturers. We see this globally and refer to the trend as the escapism concept. Customers want to leave the road and have the option do light off roading and have outdoor experiences. We’re currently looking into this area and the market potential.

And we that our time was up. While short we came away very optimistic about BMW’s continued investment in the MINI brand for the US market and its desire to bring all its new products to North America – including the J01 MINI Cooper EV and J05 Aceman EV. Mr. Goller was genuinely interested in our thoughts and feedback after the Q&A session. While his answers may read fairly short, you could tell that there was much more to say on many of the topics, he just wasn’t giving any of that up quite yet.

Above all we appreciated Mr. Goller’s enthusiasm for the brand. It’s clear that MINI, while a small sales volume compared to BMW, was important to him given his previous time at the helm of the brand. And don’t be surprised to see Mr. Goller behind the wheel of a MINI at MTTS this summer. While no promises were made, he was quick to write down the dates and seemed genuinely excited about the prospect of attending.