Interview: Lee Connolly

Time 10:50 am, February 13, 2012

Mini’s product manager tells JAMES BAGGOTT he hopes the brand’s new halo model will build on the phenomenal levels of success that have been achieved so far

What are your sales expectations for the Coupe?

We’re probably looking at three to five per cent of our overall volume. They don’t like me to give out the exact numbers. I would probably say – as an estimation – it would be about 2,000-2,500 in its first full year. We wanted to keep it low purposefully as we want it to be a halo product.

The best thing we can have for this car is a waiting list. We’re already about 60 per cent forward sold for the Coupe for this year’s allocation.

Will dealers be able to make a good margin on this car in terms of upsales?

Yes. Across the Mini range, some 88 per cent of buyers take a package. That can be Salt, Pepper or Chilli pack. We have phenomenal take rates and are probably the market leader there. Pepper and Chilli will be offered to Coupe buyers and I think we’ll have an 80 per cent plus take rate on those. Then there’s customisation options – the Mini buyers’ ethos is they don’t want their car to look like others and they do that with factory options and dealer accessories. People buying this car will probably have even more money available to spend.

Is the Coupe a step too far for Mini?

No, definitely not. These days it’s almost impossible to buy a bad car. We’ve dominated this sector and had phenomenal success compared with the MiTo and 500, A1 and DS3. This model and the Roadster is part of the strategy to expand the brand and keep it fresh and attractive to Mini customers and enable us to attract more customers.

What’s the overall goal with Mini – how far can it go? It can go as far as the market will let it go.

What we are identifying, especially with this car, is that it can revitalise the British two- seater sports car market. We saw a unique gap for this car. If there’s a niche out there, we want to get into those sectors. We have objectives to grow the brand and keep it sustainable.

Are cars like the Coupe and the forthcoming Roadster faithful interpretations of the original?

Difficult one that. One thing we will never leave behind is the little Kudos design attributes. If you look at our cars and then look at the classic Mini you’ll see elements of it. The weld seams on the front, for example, the overlapping metal – well, you’ll see those interpretations in our cars. It’s the same with the speedo inside. I

think our cars still have the historical connection to the classic which is very important to us. When you look at competitors they don’t always do that.

We heard the Park Lane dealership was selling some very expensive Minis…

Yes, that’s true. To celebrate the 50th anniversary, they did four cars at £50k and sold them. They have a lucky position as it’s our flagship store. So they have not only tourists but are in a wealthy area and people go there just to get Park Lane on their number plate. They try different things to attract these buyers. At the moment they are doing carbon fibre wraps. There’s one in the showroom covered in an England flag and they’ve made a General Lee Mini. They’ve even done chrome Minis – and the thing is, they sell. The most expensive was over £50k – it had very special paint.

Will we ever see anything hotter than a JCW?

Yes, potentially we will. I hope there is a rally-inspired version of the car. If you look at what Subaru and Prodrive did for their road cars I wouldn’t be giving anything away when I say ask any Mini product manager around the world what they want and it’s that. We’ve got some activity next year that will fit an area like that.


James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

More stories...

Motors Advert
Server 108