Could it be that the party is over?
There was a time when Mini proved that an automaker can not only successfully sell small cars in the US, but also for a premium price. With their retro styling, solid build quality, and fun driving dynamics, Mini’s lineup has definitely evolved over the years, but the sales numbers has the BMW sub-brand concerned, and rightly so. According to a report coming from Automotive News, Mini’s US sales are down 20 percent through last month. This comes after a disappointing 2013 sales year.
“We knew going into the year that we would be down at least through this point in the year,” stated David Duncan, vice president of Mini of the Americas, last January. “We are starting to claw back our way a little bit. It will be an uphill battle. We will not get back to where we would be even year over year. It should be a lower decrease than it is so far,” Duncan concluded. Still, sales peaked at 66,502 units last year, but Mini wants to see that number increased to 100,000 by 2020. At the current rate, that goal won’t be achieved. Why? Some industry analysts are suggesting that the buying public is kind of over the whole retro thing.
Others are saying it’s because Minis, in general, have been typecast as niche models and aren’t mainstream enough. The redesigned Cooper hardtop is perhaps a step in the right direction thanks to its increased size. Quirky features, such as the suicide doors on the previous-gen Clubman, have been swapped in favor of four conventional doors. Even the dash-mounted round speedometer is gone. Some Mini loyalists aren’t happy with these mainstream changes, but BMW is doing what it must to boost Mini sales. Retro quirkiness has apparently run its course.