MINI Crisis Looming: Too Little of a Good Little Thing
They say that nothing succeeds like success, but occasionally even the best of master plans hits a snag. Spurred on by spiking gasoline prices, MINI admits that is has already sold out its entire 2008 U.S. vehicle allocation, including the trick new Clubman. Automotive News reported that MINI sales in the first half of 2008 totaled 26,400 units, reflecting a net gain of 33.6 percent over 2007's record half-season figure. But supply limitations will preclude a repeat of that impressive feat during the next six-month period. Production of the 2008 MINI Cooper Convertible, which was still based on the original design architecture, ended earlier this month. While that transition will allow several thousand additional units of the redesigned -- and even-more-fuel-efficient -- Cooper/Cooper S Coupe and Clubman models to be built for the American market, buyers are likely to find their overall availability constrained to a far greater extent than their prices may be. However, the folks at MINI were quick to point out that dealers are still taking preorders for all 2009 models.
Parent company BMW recently confirmed that it's exploring the possibility of bolstering the MINI lineup here with an even more fuel-efficient clean-diesel variant. However, that move would only take place with a package that could be sold in all 50 states. The 1.6-liter turbodiesel MINI Cooper D currently sold in other world markets, while setting new EU records for both its high fuel economy and low CO2 emissions, still can't quite pass the more stringent California emissions requirements.