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Mini aims to add 3 models by decade's end

Tue, 17 Jan 2012

BMW's Mini brand will add three models by the end of the decade, said Kay Segler, Mini's global boss.

Segler would not disclose details about the models but said they will likely use an all-new BMW Group front-wheel-drive platform that debuts with the second-generation Mini Cooper hardtop in 2014. The added vehicles will bring the number of Mini models to 10.

In the United States, Mini will add the Roadster in February and a coupe version of the four-door Countryman crossover, called the Countryman Coupe, in the first quarter of 2013. It debuted as the Paceman concept at the 2011 Detroit auto show.

Meanwhile, Jim McDowell, Mini's U.S. boss, said North American buyers have become more willing to wait for a car built to their specifications.

Last year 40 percent of all Minis sold in the United States were custom-ordered by buyers rather than taken from dealer stock. "The number of custom orders has recovered as we have pulled out of the recession," McDowell said.

The peak was 60 percent in 2008.

Typically, when a Mini is custom-ordered, the buyer puts $4,000 to $5,000 in accessories onto the vehicle, McDowell said. The average transaction price for a Mini in 2011 was $28,000, he said. The base Mini Cooper hardtop starts at $20,200, including shipping.

Mini sold a record 57,511 cars in the United States last year and expects to beat that number this year, the executives said.

McDowell said the U.S. dealer count is growing, with 10 dealers appointed in recent months. That brings the number to 120. Another five will be added by mid-2014.

By Diana T. Kurylko- Automotive News