Don't Thank Cars for Mini's 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.
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