Mini has been struggling in the U.S. for the past few as more consumers shun small cars. The brand which expected annual sales to total 100,000 vehicles by 2017, peaked at about 66,500 models in 2013 according to Automotive News. Sales through the first ten months of the years have totaled 37,359. This isn't good news for the 127 standalone Mini dealers in the U.S. as it makes it tough for owners to justify the investment. In 2016, 45 percent of Mini dealers reported being unprofitable. A year later, that number rose to 54 percent.
"As a dealer and a manufacturer you have a vision of where the brand is going, and you have to prepare for it. In this case, the vision now isn't what it was when some of these stores were built," explained Jason Willis, a member of the Mini National Dealer Council and general manager of fixed operations at Willis Auto Campus in Des Moines, Iowa.
Mini's parent company, BMW is considering various options to help improve profitability. One of the options on the table is allowing dealers to integrate Mini into their BMW stores. To make sure the brands stand apart, Mini is looking into having a separate showroom with dedicated employees for sales and service.
"We've given a lot of flexibility for the dealers to present ideas. This is to help make sure that, until our next wave of product, and the market becomes more favorable, our dealers each remain a strong and going concern," said Thomas Felbermair, vice president of Mini Region Americas.
But there comes an issue with this idea. Mini has 31 dealers that don't have a BMW dealership that they can integrate into. A spokesman for Mini said they "are looking at additional forms of support for stores that remain fully exclusive," but didn't expand into how they plan on doing that.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)