Mini faces a fork within the street in the USA. The retro-themed model, reintroduced within the U.S. market in 2002 by guardian firm BMW Group, must resolve what it needs to be. Gross sales are falling as client tastes evolve in direction of bigger automobiles. New applied sciences are cropping up at a fast tempo. What’s the youngster of the British Motor Company, British Leyland, Rover Group, and BMW Group to do?
BMW Group administration board member Peter Schwarzenbauer is aware of the model must evolve — and never simply within the U.S., the place the model attain a excessive level in 2013. After asserting a brand new electrical Mini Cooper Hardtop (Mini E) for 2019, Schwarzenbauer took a while to handle its U.S. plans.
“It’s actually solely within the U.S. the place we face this with Mini,” he informed Reuters, referring to declining gross sales within the face of crossover competitors. In Europe, which lacks most of the rolling behemoths discovered right here, Mini’s choices seems rather more right-sized to clients. The model expects one other report 12 months of world gross sales.
Schwarzenbauer is aware of the model can’t go bigger. And it gained’t. The Clubman and Countryman will stay the biggest automobiles in Mini’s U.S. lineup, with no Mini Canyonero XL on the horizon. As a substitute, Mini simply must discover a new method for individuals to drive (or journey in) its automobiles.
The BMW exec feels the one method ahead within the U.S. is to construct “the Mini model within the course of the electrical city mobility firm.” Ugh, there’s that phrase once more. Banded about by a lot bigger automakers on the lookout for new income streams, “mobility” can imply any variety of issues. On this case, Schwarzenbauer doubtless means ride-sharing (and probably ride-hailing) companies, every stocked with Mini automobiles.
BMW Group already owns two car-sharing subsidiaries — DriveNow, working in 9 European nations, and ReachNow, launching in three U.S. cities final 12 months.
However what sort of automobiles will they be? The Cooper Hardtop electrical, one thing the model spend a decade creating, is an apparent chance. That automobile makes use of a closely modified BMW i3 drivetrain. Nonetheless, stuffing a battery pack with useable vary right into a small automobile is a big job, one thing Mini continues to wrestle with. The automaker is now on the hunt for a expertise accomplice.
“We’re speaking to many OEMs all over the world, not solely in China, (about) the way to electrify smaller automobiles,” Schwarzenbauer stated. “There’s no last conclusion on it.”
He speculates that the model may at some point grow to be an all-electric entity, and never simply in America. “[BMW Group] made this choice so as to add the [Mini E] as a result of we noticed, particularly in city areas, emissions-free mobility is turning into more and more vital,” Schwarzenbauer informed Automotive Information Europe. “Mini is an city model, so it’s a pure evolution to affect. We have already got plenty of expertise with electrical mobility at Mini.”
Nonetheless, he needs future Mini homeowners to at all times have the choice of driving the automotive themselves, even when it’s outfitted with autonomous driving expertise.
Mini model gross sales sank 10.four p.c within the U.S. final month. By means of the top of November, 2017 gross sales have fallen 10.three p.c in comparison with 2016. By way of particular person fashions, the one Mini automobiles to see a gross sales enhance this 12 months are the Countryman and low-volume Cooper Convertible.
[Image: BMW Group]