BMW's city car brand is struggling in America.
MINI is considering following the footsteps of Daimler's smart division by going electric-only in America. It's one of the solutions executives are evaluating in a bid to turn around the struggling brand.
American MINI sales fell 10 percent through October to 38,456 units, according to Automotive News. "It's really only in the U.S. we are facing this with [the brand]," noted company boss Peter Schwarzenbauer in an interview with the trade journal on the sidelines of the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Consequently, his team is looking at pushing MINI "in the direction of the electric mobility company." It sounds like adding more SUVs -- the de facto fix to any sales slump -- was considered but ultimately ruled out, presumably due to the brand's image as a small car company.
Adopting the smart model is a little bit of a head-scratcher. So far, it doesn't sound like going electric-only has paid off for the brand. Buyers reacted to the news with an insouciant shrug, and the brand lost about two-thirds of its American dealer network after it announced its shift to EVs. Automotive News points out smart sales nose-dived 38 percent through October.
Even if it doesn't ditch gasoline entirely, MINI will enter the electric car segment in 2019 with a Hardtop-based model. It was previewed by a concept (pictured) introduced last September during the Frankfurt Auto Show. BMW is in talks with several other auto-makers, including at least one in China, to find a partner with which to build the car in a bid to save money.
Photos by Ronan Glon.