MINI: Credit Where Credit Is. . .
Earlier this year, after considering the sales number of MINI, I wondered whether the brand continued to have any relevance in the market, at least in the U.S.
According to the latest sales numbers, MINI is doing fine compared to itself.
That is, in June 2015, there were 6,174 MINIs sold in the U.S., up 14.8% from the 5,376 sold in June 2014.
From January through June, MINI has had U.S. sales of 30,260 units, up 25.3% from the 24,152 units sold in the comparable period last year.
However, if you want to know how BMW’s bread is buttered (yes, BMW owns MINI), know that in June the company sold 6,891 3 Series vehicles and has moved 42,783 units so far this year. That’s just the 3 Series.
But it seems as though the folks back in Munich had a bit of a reconsideration of MINI because the company recently announced that it is taking the brand in a bit of a new direction.
Peter Schwarzenbauer, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for MINI, Rolls-Royce, BMW Motorrad and After Sales, said, “Since its creation in 1959, the MINI brand has always stood for ideas, inspiration and passion. That will not change. The new MINI Clubman is the symbol of our refined brand philosophy: We will concentrate in future on five core models with strong characters. We will open ourselves up to new ideas and new business areas. We will develop the brand’s visual identity. We are expanding our offering into the premium compact class, which will attract new customers and avid MINI fans. I firmly believe that this comprehensive realignment will enable us to continue the MINI brand’s unique success story.”
Put more simply: They’re going bigger. They’re going more upscale.
The new MINI Clubman is a bigger vehicle than the company has heretofore had on offer (bigger by more than a foot in length, 12.4 inches).
What’s interesting to know is that of those 6,174 units sold in the U.S. in June 7 were the current generation Clubman. Seven.
Compared to the Hardtop 4 Door, which was second in overall sales in the U.S. in June (1,886), the new Clubman is 10.9 inches longer, 2.9 inches wider and its wheelbase is 4 inches larger.
What MINI is banking on is that moving upscale with MINI will help the brand. According to BMW, studies show that there is going to be a 4% annual growth in the premium compact segment, and that by 2020, that compact segment will account for 27% of the global premium car market.
So based on this new rationalization, the question of whether MINI matters is a resounding “Yes.”
The previous-generation Hyundai Elantra (2010 to 2015) had the edgy Fluidic Sculpture design forming its sheet metal; it’s bigger brethren, the Sonata, was more visible in this regard, though the smaller size of the Elantra gave the skin a greater tautness than was the case on the Sonata.
Outside of a pickup truck, there is no vehicle that’s sold in greater units than the Toyota RAV4. So when they developed the new generation, they had a whole lot to consider.
Often when there are vehicles that have ceased production and are in the process of being completely moved out of the system there are sales numbers that look like this: Honda Insight: June 2016, 9; June 2015, 126; % change: 93.1% Sometimes there is a vehicle that has just gone into production and it catches the sales at just the right time so that there are numbers that look like this: Honda Ridgeline: June 2016, 2,472; June 2015, 7; % change: 33,856% OK.