Slump in Sales Could Drive Minis to BMW Dealerships

Miniature sales numbers could soon force Minis, which currently have their own dealerships, to share space with BMWs.

The Mini marque, which is owned by BMW, has had stand-alone Mini stores since 2008 as part of its efforts to maintain a unique, independent image. Today, there are 127 Mini stores. Mini dealerships, though, appear to be struggling to sustain this independent dealership model due to lower-than-expected sales numbers.

Mini projected it would have 100,000 in annual sales by 2017, but it hasn’t yet topped 66,500, a number it reached in 2013. The brand’s sales decreased by 10 percent in 2017, and through the first 10 months of 2018, Mini sold only 37,359 cars.

This has led some Mini dealers to request an integration with nearby BMW dealerships to reduce overhead costs and increase efficiency. Sharing costs associated with real estate and operations could help the brand stay afloat.

“We want to focus on dealer profitability so that they are properly represented in the marketplace,” Thomas Felbermair, vice president of Mini Region Americas, told Automotive News.

BMW and Mini, however, want to ensure brand differentiation should the two merge dealerships. To accomplish this, they’re considering creating separate Mini showrooms at BMW dealership locations. Dedicated Mini salespeople and service workers would staff these showrooms. Mini is also working with some dealers to reduce their requirements for showroom space to facilitate the move.

Mini has also indicated that it’s exploring other ways to support dealerships that would remain independent.

Challenges Facing Mini

The sales slump is the primary challenge facing Mini, but another issue is the lack of new product. Mini introduced the redesigned Countryman in spring 2017 and a plug-in hybrid variant later that year. A full-electric model is expected to arrive next year, but some Mini dealers have expressed worries that there isn’t enough new product on the horizon to keep customers interested.

“We’re in a development phase,” Felbermair said. “There’s a number of longer range projects that you will see come to fruition.”

Some dealers have also expressed concerns about a lack of consumer awareness caused by inadequate marketing funds.

Perhaps the biggest threat, though, is the fact that the company hasn’t been able to convince Americans to buy premium small cars. The U.S. market for SUVs and light trucks is strong, but that of premium compact cars continues to struggle. Mini also hasn’t been able to attract the young drivers it originally that would be its core audience.

“As a dealer and a manufacturer you have a vision of where the brand is going, and you have to prepare for it,” Jason Willis, a member of the Mini National Dealer Council, told Automotive News. “In this case, the vision now isn’t what it was when some of these stores were built.”

However, BMW and Mini still have hope that things will turn around. The marque is going through a bit of a rough patch that’s left it unable to maintain its independent dealership model. Although the company hasn’t made a final decision yet, reducing costs by moving in with BMW dealers may help Mini hold on until conditions improve.

The First-Ever 2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible … the M850i xDrive Convertible

BMW has just introduced the first-ever BMW 8 Series Convertible, which joins the new BMW 8 Series Coupe in blending ultra-sporting driving dynamics with an emotional and elegant design. The soft-top, four-seat BMW M850i xDrive Convertible combines immense power and torque delivery with tenacious grip and peerless poise from the advanced chassis, luxurious comfort and state-of-the-art innovations in technology, driver assistance, and connectivity. The result, is a vehicle that delivers an impeccable four-season driving experience, with the charisma of a low-slung, aggressively styled open-top sports convertible, inviting the warming rays of the sun and the wind flowing past the cockpit to be your constant driving companions.

The launch of the first-ever BMW M850i xDrive Convertible marks the premiere of a new BMW TwinPower turbocharged V8 engine. The latest generation of the 4.4-liter eight-cylinder engine has been radically revised with numerous detailed improvements. Two twin-scroll turbochargers with charge air cooling located within the V-shaped space between the cylinder banks, high precision injection, VALVETRONIC fully variable valve control and Double-VANOS variable camshaft timing all form part of the M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology, whose extensive overhaul has given a substantial boost to maximum power, torque and efficiency.

The M850i comes with BMWs xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system which has been improved for more efficient operation. With its rapid, precise and fully variable distribution of drive torque between the front and rear wheels, it maximizes traction and handling stability not just when driving in adverse road conditions, but in performance driving situations as well. Power is split in accordance with demands at all times using an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch that is networked with the powertrain and chassis systems. This results in extremely quick and exact response to any change in the driving situation.

To increase the system’s efficiency, all of the drive torque is directed to the rear wheels in situations when all-wheel drive is not needed. The xDrive system’s rear-biased set-up guarantees a driving experience for which BMW sports cars are renowned. The fact that the all-wheel-drive system has been specifically designed for performance handling is especially noticeable in the SPORT and SPORT+ modes selected via the Driving Experience Control switch.

Standard on the M850i is Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers. Both compression and rebound are adjusted continuously and independently. This facilitates finely tuned spring and damping responses, providing the driver with only relevant information about the road surface. The extremely stiff suspension springs reduce roll tendency and allow the dampers to stabilize the wheels as much as possible, avoiding traction losses caused by bumps and ruts in the road surface. The electronically controlled dampers respond adaptively to road surface conditions and driving style in order to eliminate undesired vehicle movement. Minor road damage is comfortably filtered out and narrow bumps do not induce unwanted pitching movements.

Damping characteristics can be adjusted via the Driving Experience Control switch. SPORT and SPORT+ modes activate optimal responses for maximum handling. This is noticeably different from the comfort-oriented damper setting in ECO Pro and COMFORT modes.

Active roll stabilization is optionally available for the first-ever BMW M850i xDrive Convertible and further enhances the car’s sporty handling characteristics. Electric swivel motors on the front and rear anti-roll bars ensure fast and precise compensation for lateral forces during dynamic driving maneuvers. The system is controlled through a constant analysis of vehicle speed, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, steering wheel position, wheel and body acceleration and variation in height levels. In BMW M Performance models, active roll stabilization has an exceptionally sporty set-up and adapts to changing requirements. It optimizes agility and directional stability on turn-in and helps line the car up as neatly as possible for improved acceleration out of corners. The reduced body movement also means that fast evasive maneuvers can be executed with great assurance.

The standard specification for the new BMW M850i  contains exclusive design features and options to enhance the driving experience. In addition to multi-function seats and the M leather steering wheel, there are M pedals, M driver’s footrest and special floor mats to imbue the cabin with a distinctly sporty flair. The illuminated door sills and the display in the instrument cluster bear the BMW M Performance Automobile model badge or the M logo respectively.

The M850i xDrive Convertible is scheduled for release March 2019 with a starting price of $121,400 plus $995 destination charge.


Your BMW Could Be Recalled Due To A Fire Risk

BMW recently announced that it is recalling 1.6 million diesel vehicles worldwide because of potential fluid leaks that could cause fires.

The automaker said that in some diesel vehicles, the coolant glycol could leak out of the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) cooler, which is part of the emissions reduction system. When combined with typical deposits of soot at the high temperatures that occur in the EGR module, the leaks could result in smoldering particles that could cause the intake manifold to melt “in very rare cases,” the BMW Group said in a statement. This could cause a fire “in extremely rare cases,” the company said.

BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe

The company previously recalled 480,000 vehicles in Asia and Europe in mid-August after fires were reported in South Korea. In August, the South Korean government banned owners of affected vehicles from driving them until they could be inspected after videos of BMW vehicles on fire went viral in the country. The company also faced a class-action lawsuit from customers that alleged that BMW did not respond promptly to the fires, which led to an investigation by the government. Police raided the automaker’s office in Seoul. In response, BMW said it would pick up the cars banned from being driven, provide rental cars to customers and conduct the necessary inspections. No injuries were reported related to the incidents.

Following the driving ban in South Korea, the BMW Group conducted further examinations of vehicles with engines with similar setups. The company then announced the ban for Asia and Europe. On October 23, BMW said it would expand its recall to cover a total of 1.6 million vehicles worldwide, including around 54,700 vehicles in the U.S and Canada. The announcement includes some vehicles made between August 2010 and August 2017. As part of the technical campaign, the company said it would check the EGR modules and replace any faulty components in all potentially affected vehicles.

The global recall is voluntary. The BMW Group said that it did not find any significant risks to customers in its recent examinations.

“Nonetheless the BMW Group decided to further reduce even this minor risk by expanding the country-specific technical campaigns. It is the goal of BMW Group to support the trust and confidence of our customers in our products,” the BMW Group said.

BMW said that it would contact customers with affected cars. Customers can also check for recalls that apply to their vehicle by entering the last seven numbers of their vehicle identification number (VIN) on the BMW website. Additionally, customers can contact BMW or their local dealer with questions and concerns.

BMW also recently recalled approximately 2,600 2016-17 BMW M3 sedans, 2016-17 M4 and M4 GTS coupes and 2017 M4 convertibles because of a potentially faulty connection between the flange and driveshaft. A failed connection could result in a loss of propulsion and increased crash risk. BMW will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driveshaft at no cost to the customer.