As part of BMW’s strategy to keep its place top-selling premium auto manufacturer, it has been skilfully positioning its Mini brand during the ongoing Olympic Games in London, of which the luxury carmaker is one of the major sponsors. In order to enhance Mini’s sporty image, BMW has deployed more than 200 vehicles to ferry athletes to games.
The Mini also made a cameo appearance at the opening ceremony while a special-edition Mini featuring the logo of the 2012 games on the roof. Mini has also unveiled a new John Cooper Works GP version, regarded as the brand's fastest car ever. Albrecht Denninghoff, an analyst with Silvia Quandt Research, described the Mini as the benchmark in profitability in the small-car segment.
BMW reintroduced Mini in 2001 after its failed takeover of Rover. The brand has been successful in winning new customers to the group, adding around EUR200 million ($243 million) to its annual profit, according to an estimate from Juergen Pieper, an analyst with Bankhaus Metzler. Mini is facing stiffer competition with the entry of several automakers at the upscale small-car segment.
One of them is Fiat, which just started production of a wagon version of the 500 this year. PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, which supplies engines for the Mini, has expanded its DS line, rolling off the rival DS3 compact in March 2010. Mercedes, on the other hand, has plans to increase its current small-car lineup from two to at least five models. Daimler's Smart city-car brand, meanwhile, is developing a new four-seat model with Renault.