Mini battling sales slump again, is it becoming cliche?Tue, 11 Nov 2014
Things aren't looking good for Mini this year. The diminutive BMW brand has shown falling sales every month in 2014 in our By the Numbers wrap-ups. If that weren't bad enough, the latest Cooper Hardtop suffered fuel economy issues upon arriving to the US. First, there was a delay getting some versions certified, and then several models had to have their miles-per-gallon ratings revised.
According to Automotive News, the brand's sales are down about 20 percent for the year through October, despite hitting a record 66,502 vehicles in the US for 2013. For their part, Mini execs attribute much of that drop due to constricted supply. However, with the new-generation three-door Cooper finally on sale and the five-door coming at the end of the year, there might be room to bounce back some in the final months of 2014. "We are starting to claw back our way a little bit. It will be an uphill battle," said David Duncan, vice president of Mini of the Americas, to Automotive News. "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."
AutoTrader Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs reminds Autoblog that external factors aren't helping the brand's sales either. For one, there's "a direct correlation exists between falling gas prices and lower small car sales," she said, and the average price per gallon is now $2.94, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Also, the booming popularity of small crossovers is eating into the compact car market. Mini has its Countryman model, but the trend could be hurting the rest of its lineup. "Mini was fresh, new, unique and stylish, but fashions change and fashion-conscious buyers are fickle. They move on to the next thing," Krebs said.
In the future, Mini might be a little less quirky to gain mainstream appeal. Slow-selling niche models like the Coupe and Roadster might not get new versions on BMW's latest front-wheel drive platform. Also, according to Duncan, the company is retooling its marketing budget for a greater focus on TV advertising in 2015. Any sales boost in next year is undoubtedly welcome after such disappointing results for 2014.
By Chris Bruce
See also: New Mini Cooper only just now being delivered due to EPA certification, Mini Superleggera Vision Concept keeps us hangin' on [w/video], 2015 Mini Hardtop 5-Door isn't for the country, man [w/video].