Families are the next target of BMW AG's Mini. The Countryman crossover will have four doors and will be the brand's biggest ever model. In an interview, Mini product manager Hans-Joachim Leonhardt said that its main aim is to “unlock a wholly new target audience.” The release of this new Countryman is included in a strategy to revamp the entire portfolio of the Mini brand, which BMW restarted in 2001 after it sold the MG Rover Group.
Since then, BMW has sold 1.7 million Minis, making the brand more appealing to customers who may later buy more expensive BMW models. Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany, said that in the past decade, BMW has been building the Mini brand very successfully but that it now has to evolve.
He said that the Mini brand has been more identified with the trendsetters and the post- materialist crowd. He thinks that the problem lies in the fact that this group switches products easily and frequently.
The Countryman, which features expanded leg and storage room in the back, is expected to eventually account for 20% of Mini sales. It will go on sale on Sept. 18 in Europe and is priced from 20,200 euros ($25,680). Meanwhile, the facelifted regular Mini will retail for 15,550 euros. [via autonews - sub. required]