NAIAS ‘08 MINI Press Conference Transcript
MINI USA Press Release Ladies and Gentlemen: Welcome to MINI!
I have some very good news about MINI to share with you today. This auto show early in the year is great for a manufacturer when there are excellent retail figures to announce for the past year. This is the case with MINI. And we are pretty confident that next year will be the same too.
I would now like to present the models which will make that happen, as well as our plans for the future.
First of all, let’s look back over 2007.
Last year we sold more than 222,000 MINIs around the world. That’s 18.5 percent more than the year before - a new “all-time-high” for the MINI brand. That is the most MINIs we have ever delivered!
In this respect, our decision to expand production capacity at our MINI plant in Oxford, England was the right one - even though we had to interrupt production on occasion last year for model change-over and capacity expansion. We are now in a strong position to meet our customer demand for all our current three MINI models.
What makes MINI so attractive? MINI is the only premium offering in the small car segment. What speaks for MINI is not only its brand appeal, but also the substance of the MINI vehicles. The MINI offers high-quality engineering combined with a state-of-the-art drive train. MINI models boast exemplary safety features, high fuel economy and reliability - which in turn ensure that the vehicles retain their high value.
Here in the U.S. we have also continued MINI’s success story over the past year. More than 42,000 North American MINI fans bought a new MINI in 2007 - more than ever before and at the same time seven percent higher than the previous year.
These figures once again prove that: The second generation of MINIs, which were only launched in the U.S. market in February 2007, is being well received.
The same applies to the MINI Sidewalk Convertible with its particularly high-quality interior configuration, available in the U.S. since April. One in five MINI Convertibles sold in the United States was ordered with the Sidewalk Package.
Our American MINI customers, in particular, appreciate the more upscale models: The MINI Cooper S models continue to make up more than fifty percent of sales.
MINI established itself as a successful long-running global brand many years ago. Across the globe MINI is the premium small car for fans of authentic modern design and for people with an unconventional lifestyle.
The MINI is sold in more than seventy markets worldwide. That makes MINI a true global player. And that is something of a rarity in the small car segment.
Since 2001 we have sold more than 1.1 million MINIs. One in five cars on the road today drives on American highways. The United States is now the second biggest market for our cult brand, behind the U.K. - the home of the MINI - but ahead of Germany. MINI generates excitement. We experience this first hand again and again at different events. Take our second MINI United Event in the Netherlands last summer which brought together more than 8,000 MINI fans from all over the world.
Moviegoers were recently able to experience the sheer fun of driving a MINI along the highway on the big screen. In “The Heartbreak Kid”, Ben Stiller drives a MINI Cooper Convertible down the West coast into Mexico. His excitement at driving a MINI can’t even be dampened by the presence of his rather difficult new bride.
What can you expect from the MINI brand over the coming year? We will continue to grow MINI in 2008. Three key factors will play a role:
With regard to brand: Last year we acquired the John Cooper Works performance brand. This will be expanded into a separate business unit. All performance-related products and activities will be marketed under this “sub-brand”. Over the next year we will also be launching those models here in the U.S.
With regard to markets: We plan to further expand our dealer network across the United States. There are currently 82 active MINI dealerships. This number will grow to approximately 95 by 2010.
With regard to products: The new member of the MINI family - the MINI Clubman - will generate additional growth for MINI. And here it is!
We unveiled the Clubman in the US for the first time in November at the LA Motor Show. On February 16th it will be launched on the North American market - with the MINI Cooper Clubman and MINI Cooper S Clubman variants.
On the one hand, the MINI Clubman is a typical MINI: Its go-cart feeling and design elements are unmistakable. We optimized the suspension for the Clubman which guarantees pure driving fun. And it has the iconic MINI features which design aficionados love so much.
On the other hand, the MINI Clubman is quite different. It embodies a type of vehicle which does not otherwise exist in its class. The MINI Clubman is the essence of the historic “shooting-brake”. It combines coupe elements with very distinctive rear split doors.
We aimed to make the MINI Clubman a contemporary reinterpretation of the earlier Mini classics of the sixties.
That is why the MINI Clubman does not fit into any of today’s usual vehicle categories. It is just one-of-a-kind.
Many of the MINI Clubman’s features are also quite unique. It is a five-door vehicle with a difference. The split doors at the rear make the easy loading. The Clubdoor on the right-hand side makes it easier for passengers to step into the rear.
At less than thirteen feet in length, this MINI is also extremely versatile: With the rear seats down it provides more than 32 cubic feet of cargo space.
The MINI Clubman offers an unusually high degree of customization both inside and out. Just like all the new 2008 MINI models the MINI Clubman offers innovative solutions for integrating the latest in mobile communications - including the iPhone, of course. This makes MINI a clear leader in in-vehicle communications technology.
MINI will continue to be individualistic and expressive into the future - as we expand the MINI family further.
The next model planned is a MINI Crossover. For sure, this Crossover MINI will convey the same driving fun and go-cart feeling - but paired with other functional features.
Enjoy your visit to our MINI exhibit. I hope you will take home lots of lasting impressions!
Thank you for your time.