Ludwig Willisch and Jim McDowell celebrating MINI’s 10th anniversary

The new John Cooper Works GP is being shown at the 2012 Mini United Festival at the Circuit Paul Ricard HTTT in Le Castellet, France this weekend. For those that can’t make it we can give you some highlights of MINI’s tenth year celebration. Drivingthenation.com talks toLudwig Willisch, CEO, BMW North America, and Jim McDowell, Vice President MINI USA.

Will MINI be bringing a diesel to America? What about hybrids? MINI had an electric car on the road, testing it for a couple years. What did MINI learn from those tests?

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MINI USA press release

March 22, 2012 Marks the Brand’s 10th Anniversary Milestone in the U.S. Market
Product lineup has grown from one to six unique models Dealer network has grown from 66 to 112 outlets 2011 marked record sales, and growth continues in 2012 One in every five BMW Group vehicles sold in the U.S. is a MINI
San Francisco “ March 21, 2012

Since it’s 2002 introduction, MINI USA has proven that there is a place for premium small cars in the American car market; and on the 10th anniversary of the brand’s launch, it’s leaders can confidently say that MINI has successfully established it’self as the leader in this growing segment. Over the last decade, MINI has grown it’s vehicle portfolio from the single Hardtop body style that it launched with in 2002, to include six unique models today; it has expanded it’s dealer network by two-thirds; and has cultivated a loyal owner community, the likes of which few brands have the honor to call upon as their own.
“MINI launched in the U.S. during the time when gas was cheap and large trucks and SUVs ruled the road,” said Jim McDowell, Vice President MINI USA. “Many thought the brand would be a one-hit wonder, and we are extremely proud that we were able to surprise some the toughest critics, and at times, even ourselves.”

MINI challenged the notion of small meaning “cheap” by delivering a premium vehicle experience in a small package with inspired design. The brand also demonstrated to many motorists that MINI can meet their everyday driving needs. The sales success first peaked when fuel prices spiked in 2008; but another best-year sales record was set in 2011 when fuel prices were more stable, indicating that the brand had successfully come into it’s own and that motorists’ positive perception and acceptance of premium small cars was growing. Today, one in every five BMW Group vehicles sold in the U.S. has a MINI badge on it, making it a significant contributor to the company’s overall success.

The brand has grown to include six models, Hardtop, Convertible, Clubman, Countryman, Coupe and Roadster, each of which complements the others as part of the lineup. Each vehicle in the portfolio has been developed to have a distinct personality while still delivering on the brand’s longstanding promises regarding sporty performance, striking design, overall efficiency and value.
MINI USA’s dealer network has grown from 66 dealers in 2002 to 112 dealers today, and up to 125 outlets are expected to be open within two years. While all MINI dealers have dedicated showroom space, approximately 60 percent of the existing MINI showrooms are stand-alone facilities. All new facilities moving forward will also be free-standing, and as a direct result of the brand’s success, many dealers are investing to upgrade or move those that are not. By the end of 2014, MINI USA expects that 90 percent of it’s facilities in the U.S. will be exclusive operations.
MINI USA launched the first vehicle for the U.S. market in the San Francisco Bay Area   10 years ago, and today the brand commemorates it’s 10-year milestone at MINI of Marin, the newest dealership facility to open, which is operated by Penske Automotive Group “ a longstanding partner in MINI USA’s success.

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About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.