“I think it will attract a younger, higher fraction of male purchasers. It is really a pretty radical Mini,” he said. Today, Mini buyers are evenly split between males and females.
McDowell spoke today to a group of editors and reporters at Automotive News.
Mini now offers three models: a hatchback, a convertible and the Clubman. The fourth model, the larger, front-drive, five-door Crossover, will debut in 2011, McDowell said.
Asked who will buy the Crossover, McDowell said many Mini owners in the U.S. have a Ford Explorer or other SUV in the garage.
“We are wondering if it will displace that vehicle,” he said. The Crossover “is big enough, more practical, and it has all-wheel drive. It fulfills many of the functions of the Explorer in a much smaller package and still offers a lot of room.”
All-wheel drive will be optional.
McDowell said he expects Mini's U.S. dealer network to grow. It has 86 dealers; 14 more dealers were announced in June. He said the brand expects to have 120 dealers by 2012.
“We think 300 sales per year per dealer is the minimum,” McDowell said. “As we add more models, it enables us to go to communities that we never could have made work before.”
Separately, BMW today said Mini sold 5,111 cars in the U.S. in August, down 6.5 percent from August 2005. For the first eight months, Mini sold 30,868 vehicles in the U.S., down 16.4 percent from the same eight months of 2008.