Unlike the earlier versions of the Mini Cooper that sold predominantly in Europe, the new MINI now sells in many countries around the world including Canada, United States, Argentina, Australia, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Africa and even China. There are too many countries (at last count eighty) to list demonstrating just how popular the brand really is. Considering interest in the vehicle was lost in the 1980s, it certainly has bounced back to become a popular vehicle.
Moreover, the UK, the USA and Germany are the countries with the highest sales volume. Oddly enough, the UK and the USA sell about the same amount even though the car is made in England. And in the UK where open tops are popular, about one-quarter of the MINIs sold are convertibles.
BMW indicates that sales are brisk and the company does not keep large inventories preferring to add factory shifts when needed to ramp up production. The MINI’s direct competition in the US is the Toyota Scion despite the fact that the MINI is priced a few thousand dollars higher. Industry tests have shown the MINI to be a better car that has stood up quite favorably in crash tests. Further, in both the US and Canada, MINI offers the ability to “Build Your Own” model.
One of the interesting draws of the Mini is the fact that it is a microcar without the small car image. Smaller cars are usually associated with lower budgets but the MINI is classy, has rich looking interiors, and actually sells for a higher price than most little cars. Yuppies looking for an “image” drive MINIs, moms with small children are driving the new Clubman, kids in college are getting MINIs, and seniors looking back nostalgically remember the first models and want the new Cooper which has been resurrected by BMW and modeled after the original. Then, the convertibles reach yet another type of driver, one looking to own a sexy car.
According to some analysts, there may be difficulty in attracting new customers to the brand. It appears that the buyers are typically those individuals who have already owned a MINI. But then again, they had to start somewhere, too. Something converted them the first time around. The recent introduction of the Clubman into the US market hopes to alleviate this problem by targeting another segment of the vehicle market. According to MINI promotional materials, “MINI has developed the new MINI Clubman specifically for the active and passionate individualist wishing to consciously stand out”.
The MINI is offering some the chance to drive a car that does not look like their parents’ vehicles. For example, it handles like an SUV but does not have the corresponding price tag nor is it such an “in the face big bad vehicle”. It seems modern, upbeat and fun to many.
The only apparent drawback to the MINI is some guys think the car is too cute to drive!