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Mini  Nice niche: The Mini Coupe concept is one of the new breed of niche models that are expected to help Mini expand.

Nice niche: The Mini Coupe concept is one of the new breed of niche models that are expected to help Mini expand.

A host of updates and new models will maintain the Mini brand expansion

BMW wants to double Mini volume in Australia from about 2000 to 4000 units within the next few years, in line with the marque’s global plans to go from 250,000 to 500,000 sales a year.

Leading the charge will be the introduction of new model lines based on the crossover and roadster concepts previewed at several motor shows since last year.

For Australia, the introduction of a diesel engine in the Clubman and Cabrio is also likely.

However, this may have to wait until next-generation vehicles appear from about 2013 due to diesel engine production constraints.

“If there is enough demand then it will eventually happen,” says BMW Australia managing director Stavros Yallouridis.

“The more we go in the direction of diesel engines with sports cars, then I think in the new product lifecycle you might see a diesel engine in these models. But it is all dependent on demand and production capacity.”

Mini center image From top: Mini Roadster concept, Mini Cooper D and Mini Cooper E.

Mr Yallouridis is also keen to import a small number of Mini E electric vehicle demonstrators, but these market testing and publicity seeking vehicles would only be driven at specially organised events or for media evaluation.

“In the current environment anything electric or hybrid is hot in Australia right now … and the reality is we want to go forward in terms of minimising fuel use and emissions, and if we brought in a Mini E into the country it would be a big buzz.

“But unfortunately we haven’t had the opportunity to, we have been restricted by numbers and we are on a strict testing (regime) with customers to see how the technology is working …

“But we are trying, and maybe in the near future we will get a couple of cars here so we can pass them along for (the media) to drive them.

“We are pushing, but it is not easy, because there is a lot of demand from other markets, but I think that we will eventually achieve that.

“We wanted to make a statement by being the first manufacturer to get electric cars out there – and we did that – and going forward I think electric cars will be a big part of the Mini business.

“Maybe in the next 15 to 20 years we will see a lot more circulating.”

Right now, consolidating the brand with the current four-pronged model range – coupe and coupe D (diesel), Clubman and Cabrio – is BMW Australia’s priority with the English marque, before preparing for the arrival of the additional variants over the next three years or so.

This signals the end of the beginning for Mini in Australia, after about 15,000 sales since early 2002.

“We are carefully planning Mini, and carefully paving the future for Mini in this country,” Mr Yallouridis said.

“You don’t get many opportunities to put a car on the market and see it grow. Mini has been a brand that has been very successful in such a short period of time. We took it over and redesigned it and put it back into the market after an absence of so many years, and it had great growth.

“But we knew that when we got to a certain volume level that we had to put in different product lines and different product ranges in order to expand the portfolio, which we are doing with (the Countryman and Roadster concepts).

“So we have to make sure that each model that comes in doesn’t actually overlay and not have growth, because Mini is a very emotional brand … and (people) are buying a brand and not just a product, and that’s the difference now.

“If you talk to customers they tell us that Mini is one car and one brand.

“So if you bring in a new product – such as a crossover or a 4x4 or whatever that may be as well as the roadster coupe – people just want to buy a Mini.

“Today a Mini represents a Cooper, Diesel, Cooper S and Clubman, but tomorrow when we put other products on, we will have to be very, very careful because first we have to put across in such as way that it will be a very different Mini concept and that will take time.

“Or (conversely) it can be an instant success … because Mini buyers tend to be switched on and know what’s going on.”

Mr Yallouridis said BMW’s strategy was not for instant sales gratification but nurturing and growing the brand.

“I think long term the Mini in Australia is good for 3500 to 4000 cars quite easily in the future, from what I know at the moment. And that depends on the success rate (of the added model ranges).

“(Globally) we have to go over that 250,000 sales mark because this is the only way that we can sustain the brand in the marketplace because it is very expensive to produce less than 200,000 cars every year. We need and want the efficiency.

“We want to try for 500,000 in the future – that will probably be the goal that BMW will set for us as an objective.”


Mini  Nice niche: The Mini Coupe concept is one of the new breed of niche models that are expected to help Mini expand.





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