Cars and Concepts

Why Mini’s make meeting was so important

Mini boosted U.S. sales 15 percent to a record 66,123 vehicles last year, more than Jaguar, Land Rover, Mitsubishi and Porsche -- and a few thousand units short of Volvo.

And all of those brands have their own make meetings at NADA. But Mini USA and parent company BMW weren’t ready for that until this year.

Mini is in its 11th year of selling cars in the United States and about 60 dealers crowded into the brand’s first make meeting Saturday. The day before, a Mini executive predicted perhaps 10 or 20 dealers would attend.

So why now?

Mini has come of age and it’s now a mature brand, says Jim McDowell, who heads Mini USA.

Mini has 115 dealers in the United States, and with the addition of the Paceman coupe in March, will have seven vehicles. That’s more vehicles than any of the other brands mentioned above.

Using a new BMW group platform, Mini will launch the second generation of its cars starting next year and likely will expand the range. It’s clear BMW needs Mini to meet ambitious growth goals, McDowell says. What better way to underscore Mini’s growing importance than giving its dealers more say -- and their own make meeting?