Don't Thank Cars for Mini's Sales Gain

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
dont thank cars for minis sales gain

In fact, you can’t thank any of Mini’s vehicles for the brand’s 3.9 percent year-to-date U.S. sales gain, as that figures comes with an asterisk.

Mini’s compact Countryman crossover gets glowing praise in Mini USA’s May sales report, and well it should. The crossover, enlarged for the 2017 model year, pulled in 1,691 sales last month. That’s slightly more than 40 percent of Mini’s total volume in the United States. The model’s sales rose more than 29 percent, year over year, but its year-to-date increase (a whopping 61.9 percent) hides an inconvenient truth. A little math reveals a troubling trend that places the brand’s future in question.

This in’t an unfamiliar place for Mini.

When the second-generation Countryman burst on the scene, sales tanked in the changeover period, with only 188 units sold in February 2017. That skews this year’s year-to-date figures in an upward direction, though there’s no denying 2018’s Countryman sales — so far, anyway — are healthier than in years past. March was the first month since 2015 where Countryman sales topped 2,000 units.

Still, U.S. buyers will have to fall harder in love with the model for sales to reach that of the 2012-2014 period, where consumers took home more than 20,000 Countrymans a year. Last year’s sales totalled 14,863 units.

Making up the rest of the brand’s volume is the Cooper line, consisting of two-and four-door Hardtop models, the lengthened Clubman, and a convertible. Sales of the brand’s car models sank 8 percent, year over year, in May. Over the first five months of 2018, the quartet of Coopers saw a volume loss of 34.6 percent. You’d have to go back 14 months to find a month with a year-over-year sales gain.

Basically, all of the increases Mini can claim on a YoY or YTD basis are thanks to the Countryman. Without that February 2017 dip, the brand would show itself to be on the decline. Last year, Mini sales in the U.S. were off the brand’s 2014 high water mark by 29.2 percent.

Where does the brand go from here? With no new brand-diluting crossovers on the way, the only new product on the horizon is an all-electric model scheduled to go on sale next year, which can hardly be expected to make up for lost Cooper sales. Besides that, the only changes coming to the lineup is a nearly imperceptible refresh for the 2019 Cooper and Clubman.

[Image: Mini]

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4 of 8 comments
  • R Henry R Henry on Jun 11, 2018

    The Mini thing has run its course. The car buying public has many options, most with better reliability and value. I understand that BMW marketers wanted a brand to offer lower cost small cars to buyers, but by choosing to call it "Mini" they put themselves in a fairly small box...while the market is seeking larger boxes.

    • See 1 previous
    • Darex Darex on Jun 15, 2018

      @WallMeerkat Actually, the X2 is not only not larger, it's basically the same car as the 2nd Gen Countryman, with near-identical dimensions, and identical innerds. It's a styling exercise, more than anything else, and a win-win for BMW. The engine range is identical too: BMW B38/48 engines, in 3 tunes.

  • DweezilSFV DweezilSFV on Jun 15, 2018

    No matter what what MINI marketers claim, MINI does not sell a hardtop in either 2 or 4 doors. The definition is really simple: a hardtop has no B pillar. If it still has a pillar when all the windows are down rather than an unbroken opening, unencumbered by a door frame, it's not a hardtop. Please don't give the ad guys credibility by falling for their incorrect mischaracterization of these two body styles.

  • KOKing I car-sat an A32 while its owner was out of the country, and the then whiz-bang VQ motor was great, but the rest of it wasn't any better than a XV10 or XV20. Definitely the start of its downward slide, unfortunately.
  • Norman Stansfield Why are leaf springs still a thing on this truck?
  • Syke The expected opening comments. Have had mine for two years now, the car has done exactly what I want out of it, and a little better. I'm quite happy with the car, haven't had to adjust my driving style or needs in the slightest, and . . . . oh, did a mention that I don't give a damn what today's price at the pump is?Probably going to go for a second one in the coming year, the wife's happy enough with mine that she's ready and willing to trade in the Nissan Kicks. Eventually, the not often used van will end up getting traded on a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, basically ensuring that we don't use gas for anything except the occasional long trip.And the motorcycles.
  • Bobbysirhan I've never found the Allegro appealing before, but a few years of EV rollouts make it seem downright desirable.
  • Scoutdude I know that dealership. Way back when my friend's grandfather was that Turner that owned the Chrysler Plymouth International dealer, in MacPherson. Of course the International was dropped when they didn't deem the Scout reason enough to keep the franchise. I moved from there in late 1978 so it is possible I saw this running around town way back when.