By on June 11, 2018

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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8 Comments on “Don’t Thank Cars for Mini’s Sales Gain...”


  • avatar
    Fred

    Something about making Minis bigger goes against my grain.

  • avatar
    Rnaboz

    Absolutely Love my 2013 Cooper S. Bought it in 2013 because in 2014 they were getting larger! The goal is to drive it for 10 years minimum. I really like the new Clubman, but building a Clubman similar to my S is at $43k. In 5 years that should creep up another 4 grand. Not gonna happen!

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    It probably wouldn’t lead to too many more sales – but I sure wish Mini would actually try to dominate the hot hatch category. Instead their engines are falling behind the Golf, Civic R, etc.

    I understand the S being a 6 sec-something car, but the JCW, given the price, should compete with the very best of the hatches.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      I’m sure it’s not what you meant, but the name ‘Mini’ wasn’t a marketing invention. (Officially I think it’s spelt ‘MINI’, which *is* marketing :) )

      Originally there were plans by Rover to update / replace the evergreen original Mini which had origins in the 1950s. It was then an economy car that was to be replaced by the Metro, but lived on in the 1980s as a cheap entry level model, before becoming a trendy retro icon in the 1990s.

      Every time they tried to replace it, budget constraints came into play, and the Metro ended up being sold alongside it. But by the 90s they were planning on replacing it.

      BMW meanwhile showed the Z13 concept small premium citycar. It showed that they thought that the BMW brand could move downmarket with a luxury car that was also small.

      Then BMW bought Rover, the Mini replacement became more of a small premium citycar rather than an economy car. BMW got rid of Rover, kept Mini, but a brand is not built on a single model, so they branched out. Some worked well (original Clubman), some didn’t sell (coupe/roadster) and some were vulgar (Countryman).

      I don’t think of the brand in terms of the original small Mini but rather a modern day Austin with a range of subcompact/compact cars (small-mid Euro size).

      And if you wanted a larger box, BMW will happily direct you across the road where you can part ex your Countryman for an X1/2/3/5/7.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        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.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    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.

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