Brand-wide Mini sales rose 4% to 58,514 units during the 2015 calendar year in the United States. Though an improvement compared with 2014, Mini’s 2015 output was a long way off the record-setting pace BMW’s British small car brand achieved two years ago, when 66,502 Minis were sold in America.
Mini’s inability to match the sales pace of December 2014 one year later played a significant role in holding back the brand’s calendar year performance. Mini sales plunged 24% in the U.S. in December, a loss of 1606 sales. Though a dramatic slowdown in slaes of discontinued models – Roadster, Coupe, and Paceman – caused part of the collapse, it was the core Cooper Hardtop model’s 69% decline to only 956 sales that was the real problem. The Cooper Hardtop 2-Door’s 69% loss translated to 2107 fewer sales for the model.
Fortunately for Mini, the brand’s Countryman crossover generated its first year-over-year sales increase since June and just the second year-over-year increase in 13 months. 2148 Countrymans were sold in America in December 2015, the seventh-highest monthly total in the nameplate’s history.
More fortunately for Mini, sales of the Cooper Hardtop 4-Door – known elsewhere as the 5-Door – make up for much of the 2-Door’s losses. Mini USA sold 1247 Cooper 4-Doors in December 2015, more 4-Doors than 2-Doors.
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Together, the 4-door Countryman, Cooper 4-Door, and newly launched 4-door Clubman produced more than three-quarters of the Mini brand’s U.S. sales in December 2015.
Indeed, six out of every ten vehicles sold out of the Cooper range in December offered five apertures: the cargo area and five inlets for humans.
It’s obvious that GCBC doesn’t think any less of Mini for giving consumers what consumers want. We placed the Clubman in our Good 12 for 2016.
The long range branding conundrum could be an issue, nevertheless, as a brand that’s more than just a little bit synonymous with “mini” increasingly becomes known for not-so-mini models.
So far, those not-so-mini Minis are still definitively small cars. Mini’s BMW parent better be careful to keep it that way, lest they endanger the automaker’s key calling card.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.