Even though MINI just released the facelifts for three of its models at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this month, company officials are not banking a lot on them. Instead, it seems like the British brand has high expectations from cars like the Countryman to turn things around. The crossover or Sports Activity Vehicle as MINI calls it, fits right into what the current trends are demanding, with everyone focused on SUVs and crossovers. This also explains why sales of its hatchback models have not gone according to plan.
In a recent interview with Automotive News, Thomas Felbermair, vice president of Mini Region Americas said that even though the 3-door and 5-door hardtops received a mild facelift they are not going to be the backbone of a potential turnaround in terms of sales. Instead, the Countryman will be raising the profitability of the business as it operates with higher margins and will be on sale for the entirety of the year, something the new model didn’t have to rely on in 2017 as it wasn’t available in dealerships for the whole 12 months.
“I would be confident to say we’re going to see improvement in 2018 when it comes to profitability, further strengthening the used-car business and also a slight growth in volume” of new cars, Felbermair said. “The Countryman is a big driver on profitability because the average MSRP is higher than we used to have.” The sales figures of the Countryman confirm his expectations. Even though the new model went on sale in Spring, it posted a 17 percent increase in sales.
Over 14,000 units were sold over the course of 2017 and the trend will surely keep up for 2018. Then there’s the unexpected rise in profitability for pre-owned cars, which have become more attractive according to reports coming in from dealerships. There’s still an issue with dealer profitability though as the VP pointed out. According to him, some of the headwinds they are facing come from the fact that there have been fewer recalls out, as the products have gone up in reliability. That’s generally regarded as good news but it does cut into revenue for dealership service departments.