MINI Reinvents Itself, Boldly Starts up Car-Sharing Programme for US and EuropeAuto News
In the past decade the MINI brand has gone where few brands has gone before with a line-up unique models that stood out from the pack. But winds of changes are blowing through, as Peter Schwarzenbauer, member of BMW AG’s Board of Management for MINI, Rolls-Royce, BMW Motorrad, and After Sales, detailed his new plans for the MINI brand today at the unveiling of the new MINI Clubman.
The announcement comes as a surprise when MINI’s performance in delivering 163,000 vehicles in the first half of 2015, with June working up to the best month in MINI sales history with a 20 per cent increase on year-on-year sales, is taken into consideration. Despite their stellar performance, Schwarzenbauer finds that the brand needs to reinvent itself for the future by expanding its offerings into the “premium compact class” (the MINI 3 door and 5 door models are considered to be under the “premium small car class”), concentrate on five core models “with strong individual characters”, and adopting new strategies to appeal to a new customer demands, such as pioneering car-sharing programmes.
Over in Europe, MINI is a brand that is accessible to young buyers, though with this new move, Schwarzenbauer believes that their customer based have moved on, and wants to deliver a product that would appeal to what they tout as “the creative class”, which is described as post-modern and non-conformist buyers.
The new MINI Clubman, which was launched at the very same event in Berlin, is the first model in MINI’s brand new venture into what BMW defines as the “premium compact class”, which is recognised as one with one of the strongest growth, which will account for more than 27 per cent of the total global passenger car market by 2020. Though Schwarzenbauer remained mum on the question of MINI’s five core models, he only goes so far as to say that there will be a cabriolet and the hatch in the line-up.
Riding on the Sharing Economy
Recognising the shift of car ownership in Europe to “car-sharing”, MINI is taking a bold step forward by being the first car company to offer a car-sharing concept, which will feature a new optional equipment package that will enable private car MINI customers to share their car with others through a car-sharing service known as DriveNow.
With this new function, MINI customers can make their vehicle available to other customers on DriveNow when it is not in use, allowing the car to “work for you” while you are not using it. Car-sharing programmes are said to be already active in Berlin, and found to be very successful with over 500,000 rides recorded in Berlin last month. According to MINI, DriveNow will be expanding their coverage into 10 to 15 cities in the United States of America and 10 to 15 cities in Europe over the next three years.
MINI plans to adopt a self-regulating system of peer reviews from both owner and users of the car-sharing programme, similar to the peer reviews as seen on sites such as Airbnb where both owner and tenant can post reviews and ratings.
For now, MINI plans to make this option will initially be available in the North American market next year and later in DriveNow cities. In addition to car sharing, MINI will also introduce a new form of vehicle lending called “peer-to-peer car sharing” for a defined circle of family and friends.
Focusing on Start-Ups
Being a brand that is prominent amongst the young and emerging generation, MINI is also making a commitment to the start-up community by helping individuals realise their vision of creating new digital technologies. MINI says that they are working on setting up start-up accelerators in New York, with plans to set up such facilities in China and Europe in the near future. The programme is focused on making technologies and features that would be of use in urban living environments and communities.
A New Identity
To reflect further reflect MINI’s new position, Schwarzenbauer says that MINI will adopt a new visual identity for itself, with a new cleaner and minimalistic logo, which is described as portraying a more grown up image. The new logotype will also be accompanied by a new typeface and design style that will reflect a more sophisticated and classy image.
However Schwarzenbauer assures that MINI’s original identity in creating highly-efficient vehicle focused on the essentials with the agility to offer a one-of-a-kind driving experience, will be the only part of MINI’s original identity that will be retained moving forward.