The biggest hurdle for the new MINI in the US market will most certainly be the "hatchback effect", where all models that belong to this group are seen as "cheap" or "economy cars" along with the fear factor of certain death in an accident with a Suburban. Very few hatchbacks drove well or had superior build quality, (Geo Metro comes to mind). If the BMW Brass can convince the population that the MINI is truely a world class small car, with style, provides superior saftey, and out-handles anything that has come before it, it will be very succesful.
Still.............with an $18,000 base price (or so we think) for "a cute little hatchback" in a land of $10k-$15k(loaded), a very effective marketing campaign will be needed. The MINI should not be perceived to even be in the same class as a Ford Focus, or it will fail in the US. The tough part is for the MINI to BE TRULY WORLD CLASS, in quality, Engineering, and driveability! I think we are all hoping for that! 8D
You know, I can't speak for other regions of the U.S., but here in Southern California and in particular the L.A. area, "Griswold predicts" that there won't be enough Minis to meet demand. Granted, the whole damn place is car crazy, but I clearly remember the old Cooper S minis and the devoted following they had way back then. They were everywhere. A couple other examples:
1. When "Datsun" first introduced the original Z car in the early '70's ?, fist fights broke out in dealerships over the damn things: there were very few available and tempers were short.
2. Honda's two seater civic sold for approx. $2,000 over sticker until the supply caught up with demand, and that took months. It was a particularly small car too.
It's true that some things have changed: nowadays we're all at risk everytime some momma in a suburban is late to watch Ophrah or is having Jenny Craig withdrawals and busts the ass out of whatever's in her way. But as for me, I'll have to take my chances. We'll just all need air bags as big as the car.
The US market is very funny about hot hatches indeed. I think the key to the new NINI being successful in the US is 1. being truly recognized as an upmarket car. Hatches are seen as economy cars in the US and 2. It's got to run the pants off of the competition which in my opinion, is the VW GTI and the Beetle Turbo. It's not enough just to out handle it [which is ultimately more important to enthusiasts], it has to out run it handily in the 0-60 catagory and in the 1/4 mile.
This gives it the full package: better styling, better handling, better power and better up market appeal.
IMHO too many drivers in the US are hung up on how fast a car goes from 0-60 and runs the 1/4 mile.
The original Mini Cooper S, which weighed about 1400 lbs and had 76 hp, was not that fast to 60 and would only do about 100 mph top end ... but there was no other car that could keep up with it in the extreme twisties. Driving the Mini was like driving a go-kart. I hope that the new MINI will offer the same driving experience!
The VP of my department walked by this afternoon, and seeing this image on my desktop, was beside himself and couldn't keep from recounting the time in '68 when he took a Mini Cooper S out for a test drive in Austin, TX. With salesman beside him, he raced and beat a hopped-up Camaro through a winding road running through a city park. "He'd catch you at about 60," I said. "Well, yeah," he replied, "but on those twisties, nothing could keep up...."
Really, his eyes were rolling around in his head with the memory of it. He's still in love.
(He also said that if the new car handles anything like the old one, he'll buy one. I believe him).
So how many of those guys are there? Not 20,000, unfortunately. I am extremely curious to see what Crispin Porter Bogusky pitched to MINI. '60s modernism (an obvious angle) seems to me like a tough sell in a market where Blockbuster rents the most beautiful modern homes for their ad campaigns. I can't wait for that MINI campaign. It's gonna be like a cultural event for me.
I kinda have mixed feelings about the US market reaction. I know that I need one of these Minis,and I want this to be a sucess for BMW, yet I don't really want 'em to be too popular either. First of all, I don't want to have to pay a price too far above sticker, and let's face it, we want Minis because we're different than the rest of the sheep. We want our car to be different too.
The new MINI WILL be a success in the U.S.
if BMW DOESN'T follow in the path of the
Chrysler P.T. Looser. Chrysler dealers
here on the East coast of the U.S. are
demanding $5k-$6k over sticker.
I'll buy a new MINI if I can test drive one
(shouldn't each dealer have at least ONE
MINI so customers can schedule a test drive?,
ie. serious inquiries only), and if
the price isn't above retail (which is a
joke to begin with). BMW: Setup your pricing
model and stick to it!
I'm interested in the MINI Cooper-S.
It definitely needs an aftermarket blower boost upgrade and some lower coil over shocks (struts?).
The cooper-s will be replacing my 1995
supercharged civic Si Hatchback. (156k miles)
Here in Canada it is illegal to markup the price of the car. I know if a dealer I go to tries to sell me the car for more than msrp i will probably tell him to check his price or i am letting the authorities know. haha. Thank goodness for canadian laws! whooo hooo
I think that the MINI will be more along the lines of the Subaru Impreza 2.5RS than a Civic. It's going to be a "cult" car. Just like the Impreza, the people that have one, or have driven one know just how good the car is, but there isn't a major appeal to the general public. The Impreza owners that I know are happy about the cult status of their car, and don't want it to be a "car for the masses"
I want the same for the MINI. Once I get a little more financialy stable (more cash!) I am either getting a new MINI or a used Impreza RS (NOT the new WRX - UGLY!) because not everybody has one. I like being diferent! :P
My friend has a 2.5 RS. And he is in the Impreza club. I hope to set up a club along the lines of that. I know all the guys in the club would really hate for the car to be popular. With the Mini selling around 20 thousand units in America i think ( could just be the states ) it should make it a little rare. Especially with only 75 dealerships in the US alone. I dont think it would be possible to have enough room to move as many cars ( not as much as say a beetle, golf or something like that. I think they sell like 75 thousand a year. I really hope that this message board becomes a giant club of mini owners. I know i am putting my order for my cooper S right when the buyers network is set up. I will order it 6 months before i pick it up so that i can pick the exact car.
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