Mini Makes a Name Misnomer With Larger Countryman
Mini continues to inflate the size of its vehicles, and the redesigned Countryman is expected to be the biggest yet.
The company’s global head, Sebastian Mackensen, tells Automotive News Europe that the new vehicle will grow in the same way as the second-generation Clubman. He also claims the next Countryman will be more SUV-like, and for a very specific reason.
“The passenger car segment over the last two years is not growing like the truck segment but actually shrinking, and that is where we compete,” Mackensen explained.
The prominent factor here is size. Mini initially stretched the Cooper by 9.4 inches to create the Clubman, accommodating people who may want to sit in the back without breaking their legs off. But the car eventually grew by an additional foot in length, adding rear doors, 4.6 inches of girth, and 356 pounds in its second generation. A similar increase in volume would place the Countryman in Ford Escape territory — which wouldn’t exactly make it a petite vehicle.
But the reasoning here is sound.
The Escape was the second-best selling Ford in America last year. Competing in the crowded, growing crossover market has everything to do with why Mini is plumping up the Countryman. Sales of the Cooper have improved since the Clubman variant grew in size. North American sales for the car were up by 11,008 units in 2015 from a slump in the previous year. During the same period, Countryman sales dropped by 6,565 vehicles.
But the Ford Escape sold extremely well last year — 290,362 more than both Mini models. Mini wants its Countryman to soak up sales in that segment as soon as possible.
The next-generation Countryman is expected to debut next month at the Los Angeles Auto Show. A plug-in-hybrid version follows soon after, with the possibility of a future John Cooper Works performance variant.
[Image: BMW Group]
05lgt on Oct 14, 2016
This makes sense if you think of Mini as a separate entity from BMW. Since they're not a separate maker, but rather a sub mark/branding/marketing/sales channel thing there's no need for a brand that owes it's existence and success to smallish (looking) cars to chase sales across the whole spectrum of personal vehicles. Maybe they should make a full size pickup too? Ford sells even more of those. Nonsense. Someone wants to grow his own fiefdom and bonus package and doesn't care what it does to shareholder value.
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