Mini me

The iconic small car brand is step­ping out of BMW’s shadow

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­

AUS­TRALIA is about to get funky new deal­er­ships which could be as sim­ple as a gi­ant glass cube when Mini goes solo.

The Bri­tish-based, BMWowned brand is step­ping out of the shadow of its own­ers in a move in­tended to give Mini more im­pact, and also pro­vide for com­ing growth as its line-up ex­pands mas­sively to in­clude ev­ery­thing up to

and be­yond the new Coupe and Road­ster.

Mini will be pro­gres­sively mi­grated away fromBMW deal­er­ships to sep­a­rate show­rooms in the big­gest shake-up of Mini’s pro­file in Aus­tralia since the bor­na­gain baby car was re­launched in 2001.

Mini will be its own, stand­alone brand,’’ BMWGroup Aus­tralia spokesman Piers Scott says.

Mini doesn’t fit the reg­u­lar mould as a car, so there’s no rea­son why it should be sold in a tra­di­tional show­room. The fam­ily is grow­ing and it’s now time for it to stand on its own.’’

Scott says over­seas pi­lots of rad­i­cally de­signed deal­er­ships us­ing a cube’’ con­cept may pro­vide a direc­tion for Aus­tralia. Other show­rooms have mini race­tracks on the roof and huge aquar­i­ums be­tween park­ing bays in the ser­vice cen­tre. BMWhas no firm timetable for such a move and Scott says ex­ist­ing deal­ers will take pri­or­ity in the change.

In Aus­tralia we’re talk­ing to deal­ers who took on Mini about chan­nelling the ap­pro­pri­ate re­sources into their re­tail out­lets to re­flect the ex­pected growth of the brand,’’ Scott says.

Mini is a de­sign-driven brand and it is time for staff and sites that re­flect that unique ap­proach.’’

He will not com­ment on how many deal­er­ships Aus­tralia will have. Yet he says the con­tin­ued ex­pan­sion of the Mini range— the Coupe launches glob­ally in Septem­ber, fol­lowed by a Road­ster in the mid­dle of next year— jus­ti­fies the move.

It’s partly a case of fit— Mini own­ers andBMWown­ers are very dif­fer­ent peo­ple— and partly be­cause some deal­er­ships won’t have the room to dis­play both model lines,’’ he says.

Scott says the move will not af­fect Mini’s niche sta­tus.

We’re look­ing to grow but Mini is never go­ing to be a main­stream brand and our cus­tomers wouldn’t want it to be,’’ he says. We sold about 2200 cars last year, so it’s never go­ing to be a ma­jor player in terms of vol­ume.’’

Ex­pand­ing: Some big ideas are be­ing hatched for the Mini Pic­ture: Belinda O’Neill

Com­ing at­trac­tion: Thenew Mini JCW

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