BMW Group Plotting More Crossovers for Mini Lineup
Mini might not make sense as a automotive company anymore, at least not in the United States. Consumer tastes have shifted away from small cars and practically everyone is interested in crossovers these days. While this issue has been less pronounced in Europe, where the Mini has enjoyed an uptick in sales, the brand has been struggling in North America. U.S. volumes are comparatively low and have been on the decline since 2015. It’s not a total disaster, but annual deliveries have been wallowing south of 50,000 units for a couple of years now. Nobody can pretend there isn’t a problem.
The fix, according to parent company BMW Group, is to fill up Mini’s product portfolio with crossover vehicles while also giving the little Hardtop a bit of love.
Broadening the lineup makes sense, one only needs to take a gander at Porsche’s bottom line for evidence. But, unlike Porsche, Mini isn’t getting out ahead of the curve so much as it’s playing catch up. It’s also called Mini, making the move toward larger vehicles more than a little ironic. However, let’s not forget how meaningless the backlash against Porsche’s change in strategy turned out to be after the Cayenne and Macan started spinning straw into gold.
In a recent interview with Automotive News, BMW Group sales head Pieter Nota explained that the Mini brand would pursue new products. While the Hardtop is poised to go electric, at least to some degree, the rest of the line is supposed to be fleshed out via bigger models — namely crossovers.
“That’s a growing segment,” Nota said. “Without revealing anything, we will see growth in that segment.”
Nota also confirmed that the brand wouldn’t be abandoning the United States like Smart did. “Unlike some of our competitors, we are not turning our back to the U.S.,” he explained. “We see that even as an opportunity.”
That would seem to suggest the brand will go hard with crossovers. Nota expressed excitement for the new Mini Electric and John Cooper Works, but neither are likely to move in meaningful numbers inside of North America. They’re both small cars, the JCW won’t have much appeal outside of the enthusiast crowd, and the Mini Electric ( now called the SE) is expected to have a lackluster range and be ill-suited for American tastes.
“We wanted to avoid putting too much weight and too much cost into the car [with a larger battery],” Nota said, adding that the Mini’s range would be “optimal” for in-town driving.
While the brand is obviously looking at promoting electrification, Mini’s overarching plan will likely mimic BMW’s. Expect a broader array of powertrains — with all-electric being an option, rather than a requirement. “What we see in global markets is that the rate of acceptance of electric mobility is differing,” Nota said. “But we do see overall an increase in the acceptance of electrification.”
[Image: Casimiro PT/Shutterstock]
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