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Mini set to smash sales records

Hatch match: Fresh shipments of the British-built Mini Hatch will arrive in Australia next month, following global stock shortages.

Despite a slow start, BMW’s British icon Mini will be boosted by all-new five-door

Mini logo23 Jun 2014

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

MINI is set to break sales records in Australia on the back of a rapidly growing order bank for its new-generation Hatch launched in April, to be backed up by the debut of the all-new ‘5 Door’ Hatch at the end of the year.

While Hatch numbers are actually down by about 25 per cent year-to-date compared to 2013, this is due to severe stock shortages brought on by the model changeover from the old R56 Hatch.

According to BMW Australia managing director Phil Horton, fresh shipments of the new British-built F56 hatchback will start arriving from next month to help meet growing demand.

“Mini is suffering quite substantially at the moment from moving from the old hatch car to the new hatch car, so supply on the new hatch is not hitting its volume potential yet,” he told the media at the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe launch in Melbourne last week.

“We are planning to pick that volume up over the next month or so as the new cars start to arrive.

“Certainly by the end of the year we’re looking for a record year with Mini… the new car has been picked up particularly well.

Mr Horton is also anticipating that the 5 Door Hatch, which was unveiled earlier this month, would quickly take over the mantle as the best-selling Mini model during 2015, in line with Australian consumer preferences for more doors.

However, the local BMW boss has promised that – unlike Audi’s decision to drop the A1 three-door once the five-door version came on stream in mid-2012 – the 3 Door Hatch will remain a mainstay of the local Mini range.

“And as you know, in this segment of the market, it’s very much a five-door market in Australia.

“One of Mini’s major competitors – the Audi A1 – basically stopped bringing the three-door into Australia as soon as the five-door was available. I think that tells you just how strong a market there is for the five-door versus the three-door.

“For Mini, I don’t think we will see that. There is no way that we will not make a three-door available for this market. And while I think the new 5 Door will definitely add volume because of its extra practicality, I see that a great amount of that will be incremental.

“I still see a very strong following for the 3 Door version of that car.

“We have no intentions at all in following the Audi template and going only with the 5 Door.

“Hopefully it will be ready for Australia by the very end of the year or early in the new year.”

Mr Horton added that pent-up demand from existing and previous owners is helping to drive the new F56 model’s popularity in Australia.

“The order bank on that is building very strongly – we have a lot of loyal customers out there who have been waiting for the new car and that has certainly been reflected in the order take.”

While the old R56 Hatch (and R55 Clubman) pipped the A1 to the post last year in the premium light car segment with 1646 sales versus 1637 units, the situation has been reversed to the end of May this year, with the Audi finding 834 buyers against British duo’s 472, to record a 24.5 per cent jump in popularity.

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