All The Minis Are Down Except The One That Counts
They’ve been certified, although not with the fuel economy figures we first heard. They’re available, although many Mini buyers will want their cars individually tailored. And as a result, U.S. sales of Mini’s core model – the one they call the Hardtop – jumped 64% in October 2014.
All other Mini variants posted fewer sales in October 2014 than in October 2013. In some cases, the declines represented significant losses.
As the current Clubman is phased out, sales of the elongated Mini slid 98% to just 15, a loss of 932 units. Convertible sales slid 20%; Roadster volume was chopped in half, year-over-year. The Coupe, always rare and expected to soon die along with the Roadster, was down 74% to just 24 units. Paceman volume slid 42%. The Countryman, the best-selling Mini bodystyle over the first ten months of 2014 with a 7% increase in year-to-date sales, was down 9%.
As a result, the massive 1068-unit increase from Mini’s best-selling model was overshadowed by declines from the brand’s six other cars, resulting in a 7% loss for the brand in October 2014. Through the first ten months of 2014, Mini USA volume is down 20%. After generating 19% of BMW of North America’s volume at this point in 2013, Mini has produced just 14% of the company’s sales in 2014.
Yet the bright spot couldn’t be brighter. This is not an obscure improvement from one of the brand’s mostly ignored cars. The Hardtop, Mini’s most traditional three-door hatchback, in Cooper and Cooper S form, is Mini. It is likely the brand’s least opinion-dividing car. It’s also their most affordable model.
This car was sorely needed in Mini showrooms. Total non-Countryman/Paceman sales were down 7% in 2013 as the Hardtop variant fell 8%. Cooper Hardtop sales had decreased on a year-over-year basis in 18 of 20 months leading up to October. Through the first three-quarters of 2014, Hardtop volume was down 36%, a loss of 7501 units.
We may not see huge 64% improvements added to the Mini Cooper Hardtop’s sales each month in the near future, and whatever gains it does achieve may be offset by continued losses of other models, and then buoyed again by the arrival of a five-door. But as a sign that Mini’s still kickin’, October’s total for the brand’s most popular model was an especially strong one.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.
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I'm glad sales of the non-Mini versions are down. The first version of the recreated Mini is the only one that I like. All of the latter versions are bigger and run counter to the intent of this car. Not only that, they're ugly as well. And I don't understand large people wanting to buy a Mini and then complain about how the car is small. I also like the fact that they market is turning away from the sub-categories that BMW is trying to create. That sales strategy may work for a strong brand like BMW and Mercedes but Mini is not strong on its own to sell 10 different iterations of the same car, so good riddance.
BMW is finding out that it's marketing strategy is a "one trick pony". BMW Minis are fun to drive and there's a decent niche market for this car, but as a standalone brand with their own channel, I would be worried. These cars are fashion accessories, the buyers are fickle.