Archive for the 'Mini' Category

Famous Cars from British Films and Television

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Infographic via Jennings Motor Group Click Image to Enlarge.

Keep Calm And Drive On

2012 European Automotive Recap

Monday, January 14th, 2013

The "all-new" MINI for 2014?

Well, it’s mid-January 2013, and partly because automakers have just announced 2012 whole year sales figures, and those at the bottom of the pile will no doubt be slashing prices to make up for a lackluster year of sales. That means it is a pretty good month to buy a car.

So how good/bad were those sales figures?

Let’s start with Lotus. Thanks to Dany Bahar, the company has set its sights on selling 4000-5000 cars annually by 2015. That is a drop in the bucket for a giant like German Volkswagen or even sports car maker Porsche, but Lotus has a long way to go, and will need to expand their sales five-fold over the 1043 cars sold in 2012. Incidentally, the company sold significantly more cars previously, 1457 in 2011, but the company had a delay on the Exige S production, forcing a huge drop. No doubt some Exige customers are a bit miffed about the extra wait, though they will rest easier knowing that it was reportedly a delay due to a quality overhaul.

Autocar is reporting that the generation-three MINI is about 12 months away, and that figure couldn’t come sooner. Apparently, the car will feature serious improvements from the ground up. As a driver of the 2009 MINI Cooper S, all I can say is that they ought to focus on the interior or I won’t be buying a second one. The third generation is the perfect opportunity to go through the cabin, and reduce the number of plastic pieces which cause the excessive rumbling and rattling and squeaking that my and many other MINIs suffer from. The solution is a combination of more leather, fewer hard plastic pieces, and fewer number of parts overall on the interior. The attached photo seems to indicate some serious design changes as well, but let’s hope we see less black plastic trim outside, rather than MORE, as the picture would indicate. Incidentally, MINI and BMW combined hope to sell near 1,000,000 per year by 2020. Currently MINI is selling about 300,000 cars per year, but they do hope to increase that figure by 50% in the not-so-distant future.

BMW Group as a whole did record business. 1,845,186 BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce vehicles were delivered worldwide. This was an increase of 10.6% over the previous record year in 2011 (1,668,982). BMW brand sales rose 11.6% in 2012 to reach 1,540,085 vehicles, again, a record (2011 totals reached 1,380,384).

  • BMW Group member Rolls-Royce saw another record (the third straight year!). 3,575 cars were delivered to customers in 2012, the highest annual sales in the 108-year history of the marque and the third consecutive record year.
  • Expansion into new markets – Rolls-Royce motor cars are now sold in more than 40 countries worldwide.
  • United States overtakes China to regain number one regional position.

VW’s U.S. numbers were really quite good for 2012, 438,000 units, and worldwide deliveries in 2012 rose 11 percent to 9.07 million vehicles, the Wolfsburg, Germany-based company said in a statement today. With last year’s gains, the maker of VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles has increased annual deliveries 44 percent since 2009.


Model Line Dec. ’12 Actual Dec. ’11 Actual Yr/Yr % change Dec. ’12 YTD Actual Dec. ’11 YTD Actual Yr/Yr % change
Golf 1,477 1,411 4.7% 20,677 17,839 15.9%
GTI 1,085 1,332 -18.5% 16,314 16,867 -3.3%
Golf R 292 N/A N/A 3,894 N/A N/A
Total Golf/GTI 2,854 2,743 4.0% 40,885 34,706 17.8%
Jetta 13,102 12,422 5.5% 146,478 150,515 -2.7%
SportWagen 2,559 2,000 28% 23,946 26,845 -10.8%
Total Jetta 15,661 14,422 8.6% 170,424 177,360 -3.9%
Beetle 2,666 1,530 74.2 28,654 5,626 409.3%
NBC 516 1 51,5000.0% 520 842 -38.2%
Total New Beetle 3,182 1,531 107.8% 29,174 6,468 351.1%
Eos 372 419 -11.2% 6,214 7,533 -17.5%
Passat 14,462 6,884 110.1% 117,023 22,779 413.7%
Passat Wagon N/A N/A N/A N/A 56 -100.0%
Total Passat 14,462 6,884 110.1% 117,023 22,835 412.5%
CC 2,196 2,450 -10.4% 21,646 29,502 -26.6%
Tiguan 3,310 2,403 37.7% 31,731 25,990 22.1%
Touareg 1,408 1,117 26.1% 10,553 7,535 40.1%
Routan 560 533 5.1% 10,483 12,473 -16.0%
Total Sales 44,005 32,502 35.4% 438,133 324,402 35.1%

Sister company Audi reached U.S. sales of 140,000 for 2012. Interestingly highline imports to the U.S. market accounted for approximately 1.4million cars out of 14.4 million sold overall. Worldwide, however, Audi did quite well with 1.455m units shifted in 2012.

Porsche had a stellar 2012. We’ve seen conflicting reports from Porsche, first saying they were hiring, then saying they were putting a halt, so it’s not quite clear what the internal dynamics of the company are at this time, but the 918 supercar remains on track and Porsche reports it added 30 percent staff in the last year (bringing the total to 17,000). Record worldwide sales of 141,075 were an 18.7% increase over the 2011 record year of 118,868 vehicles. No doubt, China is fueling a large percentage of these records as it sold a record 31,205. Somewhat surprisingly, the largest Porsche market remains the U.S. with 35,043 sales. Due to the new 911 seeing the showroom, 911 series model sales shot up 31.4% and the Boxster, which also received a refresh, saw sales up 29.1%. On the downside, the father of the 911, the Ferdinand Porsche died in 2012, and Dr. Wolfgang Porsche took over as Chairman of the Supervisory board.

Porsche Deliveries December Fiscal year
2012 2011 Variance (%) 2012 2011 Variance (%)
World 12,097 9,159 32.1 141,075 118,868 18.7
Europe 4,674 4,149 12.7 49,639 43,748 13.5
Germany 1,387 1,102 25.9 17,487 14,959 16.9
America 3,479 2,061 68.8 41,060 34,350 19.5
USA 2,952 1,834 61.0 35,043 29,023 20.7
Asia-Pacific 3,944 2,949 33.7 50,376 40,770 23.6
China 1,937 1,867 3.7 31,205 24,340 28.2

Bentley saw worldwide growth of 22% in 2012 to 8,510. 2011 saw 7,003 sales.


The Americas finished 2012 as Bentley’s largest global market, with 2,457 cars delivered to customers in the region, a 22% increase on 2011 (2,021 cars). China followed closely with 2,253 cars delivered, Bentley’s largest ever volume in the region and a 23% increase on 2011 (1,839 cars).

In Europe, deliveries grew by 12% with 1,333 cars delivered to customers (1,187 in 2011). The increasing popularity of the Bentley brand in growing markets like Russia, where deliveries were up 37%, contributed to the strong performance of the region. In the UK, 1,104 cars were delivered to customers, a 7% increase on the previous year (1,031 cars).

The Middle East region performed very well with deliveries up 44% to 815 cars (566 in 2011). Asia Pacific also increased its deliveries by 44% to 358 cars (249 in 2011). Finally Japan saw exceptional growth of 73% with 190 deliveries (110 in 2011).”

Following record sales in the previous year, Mercedes-Benz Cars has once again posted an annual record in 2012 as well as the highest December sales to date. Over the past twelve months, 1,423,835 customers chose a vehicle of the brands Mercedes-Benz, smart and Maybach. The previous year’s sales volumes were thus exceeded by 4.5% or 60,901 units. Also Mercedes-Benz achieved a new sales record in 2012. From January through December, a total of 1,320,097 vehicles of the core brand (Mercedes-Benz) were sold.

Overview of sales by Mercedes-Benz Cars

December 2012 Change in % as of December 2012 Change in %
Mercedes-Benz 125,234 +0.7 1,320,097 +4.7
smart 7,355 -4.0 103,738 +1.7
Mercedes-Benz Cars 132,589 +0.4 1,423,835 +4.5
Mercedes-Benz sales by market
Western Europe 47,195 -3.8 554,797 +0.6
- thereof Germany 22,691 -10.3 261,084 -0.4
NAFTA region 31,872 +10.1 311,547 +11.3
- thereof USA 28,145 +9.5 274,134 +11.8
Asia/Pacific region 33,805 -6.6 337,102 +5.1
- thereof Japan 5,234 +33.3 40,488 +24.9
- thereof China 18,910 -18.6 196,211 +1.5

In Europe, Renault had a tough year. It looked something like this:

Full year 2012 VOLUMES Var vs 2011

(in %)

MS %
RENAULT GROUP PC+LCV 551 334 -19,8% 24,2%
RENAULT GROUP PC 424 147 -22,1% 22,3%
RENAULT GROUP LCV 127 187 -10,8% 33,1%
RENAULT PC 343 355 -24,7% 18,1%
RENAULT LCV 123 455 -10,1% 32,1%
DACIA PC 80 792 -9,2% 4,3%
DACIA LCV 3 732 -29,6% 1,0%

Note, PC=Cars

LCV=Light Commercial Vehicles

Peugeot’s sales were down, as was their media web site. I did find out from Bloomberg that their sales were down 17% to 2.97 million car sales. Twelve-month sales slid 6.1 percent to 1.56 million vehicles at the Peugeot brand and 12 percent to 1.27 million autos at the Citroen marque.

Jaguar Land Rover saw a great year with sales up 30%. Jaguar Land Rover sales totaled 357,773 vehicles in 2012. It plans to add 800 jobs to support development of new models. The brands sold 71,940 vehicles in China last year, up 71 percent, surpassing sales in the U.K. at 68,333 and the U.S. at 55,675. Land Rover global deliveries rose 36 percent last year, while Jaguar sales increased 6 percent. In the U.S., Land Rover sales climbed 15 percent to 43,664 while Jaguar fell 2.2 percent to 12,011, the company said Jan. 3.


2012 looked good for many automakers. The French clearly need a kick in the pants, but everyone else seems to being playing the game well. Barring any economic issues like the Euro or dollar collapsing, we may continue to see sales increased in 2013 as consumers get more comfortable with the climate.




BMW Group


Motorsports weirdest race…

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

No comment needed.

The battle is nigh?

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Source: Mini Rocky IV
In what has turned into a fantastic publicity stunt for both MINI and Porsche, Porsche has denied MINI the opportunity to participate in a one-off race of potent power vs. rear-engine legend.
To be fair to Porsche, they have, apparently offered to race MINI in a sanctioned sporting event. That seems OK to me. The old theory of win on Sunday, sell on Monday seems to be alive and well. More interesting is what MINI hopes to accomplish by challenging the “big, bad Porsche” to a race. They surely couldn’t win, unless of course the Porsche crashed.
But what about psyche? When people see two like, yet different objects side-by-side again and again, they being to associate the two together. GM’s Buick brand is a prime example of this. Buick places words like “world class” in their advertising. Is Buick really world class? You might think so if you have never been in a better car, or you have seen the same “Buick is world class” advertisement 30 bazillion times. If you do not fall into that classification, however, you might be laughing at the notion.
The reality is that marketing is all about association. We associate plane travel with speed, we associate Coca-Cola with refreshing beverage, we associate Apple with chic, über-cool technology products. MINI is merely using this PR stunt to associate itself with sporty and fast, just like Porsche has been doing for over 50 years.

Tracked: MINI Cooper E

Monday, April 12th, 2010

It is fair to argue that a car isn’t a car until it has been driven on the Nürburgring. A 20+KM public road in Germany, it is driven by professionals and amateurs alike in every road-worthy car imaginable.  The current record for a production car is 6:48 in a Radical SR8LM sports car. Gumpert’s Apollo sports car comes in at a still brisk, 7:11. A slightly altered MINI Cooper E concept car – well, just watch and see!

Not amazingly quick, but at least it outpaces a Ford Transit van as demonstrated by the great Sabine Schmitz in this video:

The most insane product launch EVER. Courtesy of MINI!

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

It’s hard enough to get past the weirdness of the “unveiling” of the new MINI Countryman. The world’s most unusual product announcement begins first with two giant hats covering a MINI Cooper S and the all-new MINI Countryman, which is meant to be MINI’s foray into the cross-over SUV segment, or something. At first blush, it is hard to see what they are on about as the cars appear to be the same height. But MINI is clearly trying to make a statement. Maybe it’s that the Countryman is the car for the neo-luddite non-urbanites who wouldn’t touch a MINI with a ten-foot pole, or maybe MINI still feels the need to prove itself as the alternative fun brand for those with just a bit of cash.

Anyway, once the hats came off, the erm dancing begins and thus begins two minutes of the strangest product launch you have ever seen. If you doubt us, just click play.

That seen, one really has to wonder if Mini owners of old are rolling in their graves. Of course, if you think they are bad off, BMW has just announced front-wheel drive for their low-end cars, so perhaps at the next product launch we’ll see a BMW-branded car covered in a Bavarian flag with some dancers clogging to Das Deutschlandlied.

MINI: Like walking down memory lane (in the pitch black darkness)

Monday, November 9th, 2009
Radar Love...

Radar Love...

Haley’s comet has passed overhead again, or so it would seem, because my mother just had me arrange a new car for her. To preface this article it is worth mentioning that my mother suffers from what I like to call “look-aholism”. That is, she sees a car on the road that she likes and then she mulls it over repeatedly, until finally, something catastrophic happens with her current car and she is induced into buying a new one.

She started this trend with the Chrysler LeBaron convertible, by no means a looker, but nearly as gnarly as compared to today’s Sebring. It was a 1989 model, and before you ask, it was not the Maserati-produced version with the goofy removable hard top. It was the run-of-the-mill LE model with white exterior with maroon interior. I hated that car. Oh sure, it was a bit of fun to drive, but to sit as a passenger, especially in the back, where I inevitably got placed, was a painful experience. Exposed to the cool summer elements in the wild west of Nebraska, my senses were assaulted by the noisy, cold, and face-distorting speed produced by that 4-cylinder turbo racing down dirt roads at 80 miles per hour. So now you know the answer to the question: why not the Mazda Miata? Because my mother likes to torture her children in the back seat (a feature distinctly lacking in the Miata).


June 2009 sales abysmal for Europe’s automakers

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Gathered, in part from LeftLane:

Volkswagen says its diesel TDI vehicles are selling well. An impressive 81 percent of Jetta SportWagens were equipped with the TDI, as were 40 percent of Jetta sedans and 29 percent of Touaregs last month. Volkswagen, sales were down 18 percent to 19,027.

Volvo saw a 0.6 percent increase in sales compared to June 2008, though the Swedish marque is still off 35.6 percent for the first six months of the year. The all-new XC60 sold 1,032 units.

Porsche had a disastrous June; just 902 of the automaker’s sports cars left dealer lots, a 66 percent decrease that brought the automaker’s year-to-date sales down 36 percent for the year.

BMW, down 20.1 percent to 16,744.

Maserati, down 47.9 percent to 111.

Mercedes-Benz, down 22.6 percent to 15,155.

Mini, down 21.2 percent to 4,105.

Saab, down 58.4 percent to 779.

Prioritizing in an automotive recession

Thursday, February 26th, 2009


The iconic MINI Cooper

The iconic MINI Cooper



It is quite true that an economic recession hurts. Company after company has laid off millions of workers worldwide over the last 12 months. While one can discuss blame all day long, part of the problem is that consumers and lenders have over-extended themselves. Virtually every company, especially automakers, has seen drastic reductions in expenditures.

The numbers for UK-produced automobiles are dramatic, to say the least.

A total of 61,404 new cars were produced in January 2009, 58.7% lower than January 2008, as plants closed for extended winter shutdowns, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Aston Martin: Extended Christmas shutdown and 600 redundancies. Three-day week

Bentley: Three-day week in October and longer Christmas break. The company is closing its Crewe plant for seven weeks from March. February announced 220 job losses and 10% pay cut.

GM (Vauxhall): Extended Christmas closure and 40-day shutdown

Honda: Four-month shutdown between February and May

Jaguar Land Rover: Series of one-day shutdowns and production cuts late 2008 plus 1,000 redundancies planned

Mini: Christmas shutdown was extended by 10 days. 300 agency staff let go and with a one-week shutdown planned for February. From March, plant will run five days per week, from seven, and a further 850 jobs to go.

Ford: 850 jobs to go by May


One of the difficulties that manufacturers have is that they constantly struggle to gauge demand of vehicles. Since the rise of U.S. gas prices to $4/gallon a year ago, the automakers had to make a switch to smaller/lighter less-gas guzzling vehicles such was the case at GM. GM is still paying for the ineptitude in their failing to have these smaller cars ready to be sold when demand took hold. The result of the rising cost of gas was that MINI found itself well positioned to offer good quality, fuel-efficient passenger cars. In the moment, they seemed brilliant strategists. And one day, they may again come off as brilliant will the gas prices in the U.S. rise – it is only a matter of time.


In the meantime, the world struggles with a major credit crisis, evolving into a major jobless crisis. Combined, these two factors have meant a major slowdown for all manufacturers, even those who produce fuel-efficient cars. Toyota has seen a major slowdown, even for the once-prized Prius, and MINI, as seen from the above information, is now facing rough times. Does the company deserve it?


According to BMW Group, BMW sales fell by 4.3% in 2008, to 1.4 million vehicles, although Mini sales actually rose by 4.3% last year, to 232,425 cars.


The end result is that hard-working employees have been let go, despite their successes. In a capitalist system where people are supposed to be rewarded for their work, one can understand the employees’ fury behind the BMW/MINI

Reports the BBC:

Russell Hager told the BBC he had seen the sackings coming, but was still shocked at how the situation had been handled.

“It’s the unfairness of the way people are treated in large corporations such as BMW,” he said. “Why is it allowed to happen that people like myself go to work, give the company fairness, loyalty, commitment, and try to build a better life for [themselves], then half an hour later they can just be told, ‘You haven’t got a job any more’?”

Tony Woodley, joint secretary of the Unite union, said the sacking of the Mini workers was a “national disgrace” and agency staff were being treated as “second class citizens”.

“This kind of action would be illegal in Germany,” Mr Woodley said.

“BMW is guilty of blatant opportunism by sacking workers on the cheap. It has got to be stopped.

“These aren’t just temporary workers – these are workers like you and I who have got families and commitments.

“They’ve been loyal, decent, dedicated and they get called in with an hour’s notice to say that after four or five years they are going to be cast aside like cannon fodder.

“It can’t be right.”


Silvia Fernandes worked at the plant for four years; she says she feels betrayed by the suddenness of the news.

She told the BBC: “In this meeting they told us we’d all been sacked because of the credit crunch. But actually we already knew some of us would have to go, that was a fact of course because of the crisis – but what we never expected from BMW was knowing one hour before [our shift].

“I’ve never been sick, I’ve never missed work and they tell me one hour before that I’ve been sacked. That’s not on. That’s why people are angry and so upset with BMW and with the union.”

John Cunningham worked at the factory for over two years. He says he does not yet know what he will do next.

Mr Cunningham told the BBC: “I feel betrayed, they’ve planned this for months and we’ve only just been told – one hour’s notice. We’ve been given a week’s pay for an enforced week off which I suppose is a week’s notice.

“If I have to sign on to benefits that makes that increasingly difficult so I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.”

Yes, it is true that times are tough, but there will come a day when the global recession

True, we should not expect automakers to be rewarded for bad practices. We should not expect the banks to be rewarded either. But everyone must understand that when companies are success, when employees do a commendable job, that the executives at companies make decisions that positively impact their people and their clients, not negatively impact them.

BMW and the dozens of other automakers around the world facing similar problems need to have open and frank discussions about organizational issues. They must prioritize long-term strategic planning over short-term bottom-lines. Transparency and communication must be valued. Companies that intend to bring back workers should let them know when they will be back, and those that fire them permanently should provide them monetary and job training assistance so that they may rejoin the workforce.

We are, after all, in this one together.

Sources: SMMT/ BBC Archives

Economic failures = new car models for European automakers. Month in review.

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Audi R8

The economy is hurting and more and more carmakers are suffering. Not all are doing poorly, though. Audi, as an example reported record sales for 2008, with over 1,000,000 vehicles sold. Lamborghini, owned by the VW/Audi Group, also posted record sales for 2008. Both companies produce sports cars that retail at over US$100,000.

Let us examine the developments of the last month by automaker:

Porsche. There is no substitute for a strong economy. A poor economy negatively impacted sales at the sports car maker, and even a significantly revised 911 model did not save it from a virtual sales slump. Porsche is tighter with numbers than most companies, but while sales were slowing, the company hopes that new models in 2009 will help it combat slumping sales. A four-door car, the Panamera should hit showroom floors in the first half of 2009, while you can expect to drive a 2009 Boxster/Cayman with revised powertrain as soon as March.

In financial news the company announced the first week of January that they had bought an additional 8.16 per cent stake in VW worth 6.1bn Euro/US$8.2bn. Porsche now owns 50.76 per cent of VW Group but may gain further stake in VW, rising to 75 per cent in coming months (if all goes as planned).  In November, news came out that Germany’s upper house of parliament passed new laws regarding ownership of VW, despite European Commission rulings that such laws were illegal.

In November, the high profit-maker in the world gobbled up a stake, which sent hedge funds scrambled to recover from trading, which briefly left VW as the most valuable company in the world. Porsche’s finance team effectively practiced something called “cornering”. Let us not forget that Porsche is better as an investor than as a carmaker – though they are a damned good carmaker. In 2007, the company made 3.6 billion Euros on investments, and only a paltry 1 billion Euros on cars. At a 12 per cent profit margin, the decision to invest in VW stands financial positioning, and partly seeking a partner with whom to share technology development costs.

Still, everyone is watching the dollars and cents these days. Even Porsche has announced that is it pulling out of the American LeMans series for 2009 – in part. It is pulling the P2 team, but not pulling support for the 911 GT3 RSRs in the GT2 category.

Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes has finally announced the much-anticipated E-class for 2009. The new car replaces the round headlights with more rectangular ones, perhaps in the style of the C-class or a Lexus.


Nanny State Alert: BMW Official Speeds, Lies, Taxpayers Pay

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

British Justice? BMW Official Speeds, Lies, Taxpayers Pay.

BMW boss jailed over speeding charge lie

Thomas Moser, the finance director of the BMW-owned Mini factory in Oxford, has been jailed for six weeks for lying to police after being clocked speeding at 101 mph.
BMW/MINI Logos - Speed Blurred
Moser (48) was given three opportunities to change his story, but declined. He was consequently jailed for perjury after claiming falsely that his 19-year-old son had been driving the Mini at twice the 50 mph speed limit.
He is the latest in a growing number of motorists who try to illegally ‘swap points’ to keep their licences clean or escape a ban.

Car of the Year Awards Winter 2007

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Yes, it’s that time of the year, the picks for the best cars as of Winter 2007.

Which European cars are by matter of fact, “the best”? Find out below:

Best Supercar over $500,000: Bugatti Veyron 16.4

Best Supercar under $500,000: Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder

Best Ultra Luxury Convertible: Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé

Best Ultra Luxury Sedan: Rolls-Royce Phantom

Best Ultra Luxury Coupé: Bentley GT

Best Hot Hatchback: VW GTI

Best Hot Sedan: Audi S8

Best sound: (tie) Ferrari 599 GTB/Ferrari F430

Best sports car under $100,000: Porsche 911 Carrera S

Best sports car over $100,000: Aston Martin DB9 Volante

Best new sports car: Aston Martin V8 Vantage

Best Small Car: Mini Cooper S (John Cooper Works Edition)

Best Old Car Experience: Caterham Lotus 7 SV

Most economical and fun sports car: Lotus Elise

Mid-sized Sedan: BMW M5

Best Car for Old People Who Don’t Give a Damn: Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG

Best SUV: Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG

Best minivan/mpv (yes, I’m ACTUALLY including this category): Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG