Mini announces ’16 ragtop, JCW convertible

John Cooper Works convertible

John Cooper Works convertible

MINI USA announced pricing today on its all-new 2016 MINI Convertible with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $25,950 for the Cooper model. In addition, the company also introduced the fastest, most powerful convertible it has ever built, the new MINI John Cooper Works Convertible.

As one of the newest additions to the MINI product line, the new MINI Convertible represents the first open top MINI powered by BMW Group engines. The premium four-seater soft-top convertible is both practical and customizable, delivering unlimited open-air motoring fun. The latest generation convertible, which was designed, engineered, developed, and assembled in Europe, starts only $250 higher than previous generation car, making it the only true convertible built in Europe priced below $26,000. The Cooper S variant will start at $29,600. All prices exclude the $850 Destination & Handling fee.

In addition to the Cooper and Cooper S models, MINI has developed its fastest, most powerful open-top yet with the new MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Similar to the recently launched MINI John Cooper Work Hardtop, the new MINI John Cooper Works Convertible is specially tuned for high performance on the track and on the road. The John Cooper Works variant will start at $35,600 plus Destination & Handling.

P90206794_lowRes_mini-john-cooper-wor“The new Convertible has all of the legendary driving performance you expect in a MINI yet with interior materials and finishes which set a new benchmark for the segment,” said Patrick McKenna, Department Head, Product Planning, MINI USA. “Now with the addition of the John Cooper Works variant we have once again set the bar high for the rest of the premium convertible market by offering a high performance open-top driving experience.”

As with all MINI models in the product line up, the new MINI Convertible is made for individualization. Featuring a choice of 11 exterior color options, including the new Caribbean Aqua and Melting Silver colors, as well as a number of premium seating options such as the new Malt Brown leather with diamond-stitching reminiscent of classic English Chesterfield sofas, the new MINI Convertible sets the standard in the premium convertible market.

The new MINI Convertible comes equipped with a standard “Always Open Timer,” providing convertible enthusiasts with the ability to calculate the number of hours they’ve driven with the top down. It will also come standard with the MINI Connected infotainment system including a 6.5-inch high-resolution screen. In addition, an optional larger 8.8-inch display includes navigation and a clever rain warning app, which notifies drivers of impending storms so they can prepare their vehicle for inclement weather. A list of standard features, a la carte options and available bundled packages can be found at the end of this release.

P90206783_lowRes_mini-john-cooper-worOPEN-AIR PERFORMANCE, REDEFINED.

Built with BMW Group engines, the John Cooper Works model will feature the most powerful engine ever installed in one of the brand’s production models. The 2.0- liter 4-cylinder engine was developed based on the latest generation of power units with MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology. It generates a maximum output of 228 bhp and a maximum torque of 236 ft.-lbs., accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds (Manual: 6.4 seconds).

The car also features a sports exhaust, suspension technology refined with racing expertise and model-specific design features that not only optimize the car’s aerodynamic features, but also guarantee a fun and efficient ride emphasizing its exclusive charisma.

The new Convertible will go on sale in March 2016 at MINI dealers across the U.S., with the John Cooper Works variant becoming available in April. Customers looking to build or pre-order a new MINI Convertible can use the configurator now available at MINIUSA.com or visit their local MINI dealer. For full vehicle specifications and product details on the new MINI Convertible, please see the detailed product news release here. A detailed product news release for the new John Cooper Works variant is also available here.

Mini sets a Maximum route to tour the US in 2016

Woodcliff Lake, NJ – After much anticipation, MINI USA today announced the official route for the 2016 running of MINI TAKES THE STATES . The legendary biennial cross-country owners rally will kick off at Road Atlanta in northeast Georgia on July 9, 2016 and finish at the Thermal Club in Palm Springs, CA, on July 23, 2016.

 

In true MINI TAKES THE STATES fashion, the route will not take a direct path from point A to point B. The more than 4,000-mile “track-to-track” adventure will travel up the east coast, across the Great Plains and over the Rocky Mountains before arriving in Southern California.  The legendary adventure, which attracts thousands of MINI owners and enthusiasts every other year, will pay tribute to the brand’s motorsports heritage by stopping at several professional race tracks to host driving experiences along the way.

“MINI TAKES THE STATES is one of the most anticipated experiences that the MINI community takes part in every other year,” said David Duncan, Vice President MINI of the Americas. “Owning a MINI is about being a part of a community and never is that more evident than during MINI TAKES THE STATES.  We can’t wait to hit the road this summer!”

MINI TAKES THE STATES 2016 will leave Atlanta making stops in Charlotte, NC, Richmond, VA, and Baltimore, MD. The route then turns slightly west heading towards stops in Pittsburgh, PA, and Detroit, MI.  The group of owners and MINI employees will then head north and cross over the legendary Mackinac Bridge, considered to be a rite of passage for thousands of MINI owners who have participated in the biennial MINI on the Mack event before arriving in St. Ignace, MI.

 

After crossing over into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula the route heads along the banks of Lake Michigan to Green Bay, WI, before heading west for stops in Minneapolis, MN, and Sioux Falls, SD. The rallying MINI owners will then motor across the Great Plains and through the Black Hills where they’ll make a pit stop in Sturgis, SD, home of the legendary motorcycle rally. The route then heads south for the final legs of the epic journey making stops in Cheyenne, WY, Park City, UT, and Las Vegas, NV, before finally crossing the finish line in Palm Springs, CA.

Dealers that embrace technology have better sales, sales experience: Survey

Porsche Ranks Highest among Luxury Brands; MINI Ranks Highest among Mass Market Brands for a Sixth Consecutive Year

The use of technology—i.e., tablets and computer displays—by dealers during the sales process can substantially improve customer satisfaction among new-vehicle buyers, according to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) StudySM released today.

The study, now in its 29th year, measures satisfaction with the sales experience among new-vehicle buyers and rejecters—those who shop a dealership and purchase elsewhere. Buyer satisfaction is based on four factors: working out the deal (17%); salesperson (13%); delivery process (11%); and facility (10%). Rejecter satisfaction is based on five factors: salesperson (21%); fairness of price (8%); experience negotiating (8%); facility (7%); and variety of inventory (7%). Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale. Overall sales satisfaction improves to 688 in 2015 from 686 in 2014.

Given an increasingly tech-savvy consumer, dealerships that integrate technology tools into their sales process deliver a superior customer experience. Dealers that fail to invest in consumer-facing technologies risk being trumped by competitors. According to the study, among both non-premium and premium buyers, use of tablets by sales personnel to perform such tasks as record customer vehicle needs, demonstrate vehicle features and display pricing information yields higher satisfaction with technology usage than when a tablet is not used (8.12 vs. 7.02 and 8.63 vs. 7.52, respectively, on a 10-point scale). Notably, handwritten price quotes have a negative impact on buyer satisfaction with technology usage, with a -0.55 point gap in satisfaction between non-premium buyers when this method is used and when it is not and a -0.45 gap between premium buyers.

Finance and insurance (F&I) products, such as extended warranties, pre-paid maintenance contracts and tire/road hazard protection are not only highly lucrative for dealers, but satisfaction is also higher among customers who are offered these options. For example, among non-premium owners, satisfaction is 46 points higher when a dealer offers them a pre-paid maintenance contract vs. when they do not (788 vs. 742, respectively), and among premium buyers the gap is 26 points (827 vs. 801). Moreover, when F&I product and pricing/payment options are presented on a computer or tablet screen, satisfaction is higher than when any other method is used, including printed materials, verbal quotes/descriptions and handwritten figures.

“With retail vehicle sales in the United States in 2015 forecast to reach 14.2 million units[1] and this positive momentum expected to carry into 2016, dealers face challenges in properly servicing a high volume of new-vehicle buyers who are increasingly tech savvy,” said Chris Sutton, vice president of the automotive retail practice at J.D. Power. “Dealerships should understand that customers want and trust technology and that it can enhance efficiencies. Dealers that disregard it may risk being left behind in 3-5 years. Customers are experiencing interesting uses of technology in many of their other retail transactions—and now expect this in auto.”

Gen Y[2]—the single most impactful generation on all markets due to numbers and purchase power—is among the buyers flocking to car lots and accounts for 29%1 of new-vehicle retail sales. Furthermore, average transaction prices for new vehicles exceed $30,000.1 “There is every incentive for dealers to use the most effective tools available to satisfy customers and build a relationship with them during the initial purchase process. This relationship should translate quickly into future service business. Implementing tools and processes that meet the needs of Gen Y will ultimately benefit all consumers,” said Sutton.

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Following are some of the key findings in this year’s study:

  • Sales Staff Remain Vital to Sales Experience:The most impactful sales satisfaction key performance indicator (KPI)—best practice—is interacting with a salesperson who understands the customer’s needs completely (+106 points). Such salespersons are good listeners, ask relevant questions and are able to deliver on customer requests. This KPI demonstrates that even with the growing prevalence of online communications and emphasis on an efficient transaction, the salesperson still plays a key role.
  • 5 of Top 10 KPIs Relate to Working Out the Deal:Among the most impactful KPIs are five that involve making customers feel comfortable (not pressured) and confident they are receiving the most transparent and up-front information to aid their decision-making while at the dealership. Delivering on these best practices improves satisfaction and builds loyalty and advocacy.
  • Gen Y Equally Interested in Safety and Protecting Vehicle Value as Other Generations:Among generational groups, Gen Y is as likely to purchase F&I products as other generations. For example, by generation, the following proportions of customers purchase tire/road hazard protection: Gen Y (21%); Gen X (21%); Boomer (20%); and Pre-Boomer (20%).

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Brand Sales Satisfaction Rankings

Porsche ranks highest in sales satisfaction among luxury brands, with a score of 752, improving by 14 points from 2014. For a sixth consecutive year, MINI ranks highest among mass market brands, with a score of 762, a 35-point increase from 2014.

The 2015 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study is based on responses from 27,831 buyers who purchased or leased their new vehicle in April or May 2015. The study is a comprehensive analysis of the new-vehicle purchase experience and measures customer satisfaction with the selling dealer (satisfaction among buyers). The study also measures satisfaction with brands and dealerships that were shopped but ultimately rejected in favor of the selling brand and dealership (satisfaction among rejecters), and was fielded between July and September 2015.

Learn more about the 2015 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study at http://www.jdpower.com/resource/us-sales-satisfaction-index-ssi-study

 

Mini goes big to attempt record setting parade ‘Across the Mack’

Minis on the Mack

Minis on the Mack

BY GERRY MILES

Mini has never made a secret out of its small shape providing big surprises behind the wheel when motoring. They like to play with words, have out of the box ads, and … ahem, think big.

It’s not shocking to learn that on Sat. Aug. 3 they’ll attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the largest parade of Minis across Michigan’s famed 26,37s-foot  Mackinac Bridge.

Mini USA and the Mini dealer in Grand Rapids, Mich. are hoping to amass more than 1,451 minis along I-75 and the “mack bridge” to set the record.

After the bridge crossing, lunch and entertainment will be provided for all MINI motorists at Little Bear East Arena, St. Ignace, followed by a short walk downtown to the Bayside Music Festival which concludes with fireworks at dusk.

“Our ‘NOT NORMAL’ brand campaign conveys MINI’s individual, high-energy attitude toward life and highlights MINI’s strong, independent character. This July we’re rolling out the second phase of our brand campaign in several bold and refreshing ways and MINI ON THE MACK is a perfect example of that philosophy,” said Tom Salkowsky, Department Head, MINI Marketing.

MINI Convertible ‘boat’ plied the water at Dad Vail Regatta

Mini_DadVail
BY GERRY MILES

It’s just the kind of thing that has made Mini standout from the rest of the field, but the creatives took it one step farther this past weekend at the Dad Vail Regatta on the Schuykill River.

A special one off Mini “boat” plied the waters  powered by a 6 hp outboard motor, no Pentastar or Volvo marine motor to be found.

The MINI boat was actually a fiberglass mold of the car mounted to a boat hull, bedecked with authentic MINI headlights, taillights, grille, steering wheel, badges, wheels and tires. A special effect showed the wheels rotating in the water to add to the illusion that the car was being “driven on the water.”

The Mini boat was constructed by ACI Composites Inc, in Lancaster, Pa.

“MINI is known for being unconventional, and sponsorship at an event like the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta is an opportunity to make a lasting impression with attendees, and add value to the event by further increasing its fun factor,” said Laura Towey, Regional Business Manager, MINI USA. “The MINI Convertible Boat’s appearance of actually motoring on water is so convincing that it provides guests with an amazing tale to share even after they’ve left the event.”

The boat was part of MINI USA’s sponsorship of the 75th running of the largest inter-collegiate regatta in North America, which has been celebrated every year (excluding the WWII years) since 1934.