“It is hard to forecast sales for 2009, but we want to sell the same number as in 2008…. plus one,” said Dr.Wolfgang Armbrecht, senior vice-president brand management Mini, BMW AG.
During the past year, Mini has done very well, up 4.3 per cent to total sales of 232,000 units worldwide, making Mini the fastest growing premium brand in the market. If that’s not impressive enough, consider 54,000 of those were sold in the US – and in a market where virtually everyone posted double-digit declines, last year, that meant an improvement of no less than 28.6 per cent compared to 2007.
So how do you hold your ground in a market like this? If Mini is right, you go with products like the convertible Mini Cooper and Cooper S, and aim for a target of 233,000, this year. But there’s more coming, like the Mini One, with its 75 hp engine which, unfortunately, you American drivers won’t be getting, at least not any time soon.
In fact, that pint-sized engine – a downsized version of the small Mini 95-hp I-4 – was really developed for the Italian market, where people just getting a licence cannot drive in cars with more than 75 hp. But with growing interest in ultra-mileage powertrains, Mini has decided to make the smaller engine available for other selected markets in Europe, while the possibilities to use it in the Clubman One is under investigation.
The new base model will hit the streets on April 1, just after the worldwide market launch of the open top Cooper and Cooper S, and the Clubman One. So far, the price of the 75 hp Mini has only been announced for the German market. With a price tag of 15,200 euro, Mini hopes to attract a new group of young buyers.
For the 50th anniversary of the Mini brand, which will be celebrated on the Silverstone race track in the United Kingdom, we may expect a special version, possibly of the John Cooper Works.
Stay tuned, tomorrow, for Henny’s report on driving the new Mini Cooper Convertible! It’ll be available, exclusively here on TheDetroitBureau.com