Does MINI Matter?

BMW Group is bullish on MINI.

BMW Group is bullish on MINI. And I wonder why. Still, in reporting on how the brand performed globally in January 2015, Peter Schwarzenbauer, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for MINI, BMW Motorrad and Rolls-Royce (I would hate to see his business card, said, “Following on from our core model change last year, MINI is aiming for sustainable growth in 2015.”

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Making MINIs in Oxford (yes, that Oxford)

Globally, MINI moved 17,373 units in January, according to BMW Group, or an increase of 12% compared to January 2014.

And from a percentage basis, things were even better in the U.S.

MINI had a total deliveries of 3,228 units in the U.S. in January, according to Autodata, which is a more-than-respectable increase of 26.9% compared to January 2014.

When we look more closely, that’s 1,494 Cooper/S units, up a whopping 79.6%. There were 675 Cooper/S four-doors, which weren’t available last year. There were 144 convertibles, which is down 11.7%. And there were 22 coupes, down 73.8%, which seems sad until you realize that there was one Clubman delivered, down 99.5%. They moved 65 Roadsters, a 12.1% gain. The 745 Countrymans were off by 30.6%, and the 82 Pacemans were down by 26.1%.

When you look at that 3,228 number, realize that BMW, the company that owns and operates MINI, delivered 3,279 5 Series sedans in January. One car vs. eight.

And if you consider other small cars on offer in the U.S., it is interesting to note that Ford delivered 3,454 Fiestas in January, which is down 17% compared to 2014, and Chevy sold 3,521 Sonics, and that was off 46.5% compared to January 2014.*

Maybe the rest of the world is more taken with MINIs, but when the U.S. market, which accounted for 18.5% of the global sales in January buys just 3,228 units and that’s a 26.9% gain, the math seems rather mysterious.

*It should be noted that the pricing of MINI is different than the Ford and the Chevy, with a starting MSRP of $20,700 for the Cooper and $13,965 for the Fiesta (and if you want to go up a notch, the Focus starts at $16,810) and $14,245 for the Sonic. Consequently, the margins are undoubtedly better on the MINI, which means that you need to sell fewer to still make as much. But when it comes to auto sales, more is generally better, isn’t it?