Exec: New MINI to lead 2014 chargeUpdated: 2013-12-30 07:47
With its trendy designs and good performance, the MINI attracts customers who seek individuality and quality. [Photo/China Daily]
Sporty icon matures in design and 'driving fun'
With China as one of its top markets, the UK-born lifestyle icon MINI chose Shanghai as the finale of its debut campaign in late November after shows in London and Los Angeles.
"MINI's growth in China is incredible, and magnificent," said Jochen Goller, senior vice-president of the brand. "It has been the most important market for us."
He told China Daily that MINI will post an "all-time sales record" this year in China with 28,000 cars delivered to clients.
That will represent 20 percent growth from a year ago when it reported full-year sales of 23,275 units, up 51 percent from 2011.
"The all-new MINI we launched here is due to go on the China market in the first half of 2014 and I believe it will drive the sales next year," said Goller.
"That will help close the gap with the other three leading MINI markets."
China currently follows the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany as the brand's biggest markets. Goller said the gap between China and Germany is about 7,000 units, while the difference with the UK is 23,000 and 40,000 with the US.
"I am sure China will climb high. It's quite possible that it will soon overtake our UK and German markets," said Goller. "China's middle-class is growing rapidly while in Europe it has been quite stable."
In the first three quarters, MINI sold 19,570 vehicles in China, an increase of 13.4 percent year on year, even as its overall sales in the first seven months dipped 1 percent worldwide.
"For the coming year, we will move our focus of network expansion to more inland cities," said Goller.
Working for MINI's parent BMW Group in China for years as the marketing director, Goller has been a first-hand witness of MINI's development in the country during the past decade.
"It was fascinating. I can still remember the first year when MINI only had two dealers and delivered 300 cars in the country."
The years have also made him very familiar with the local market and consumers.
"Chinese customers are very demanding.
"To further promote the brand here, we need to hit the right tone and have the right sight," said Goller.
Yet he said MINI's customers are similar in every corner of the world.
"They buy a MINI for the same reason - to be trendy, sporty and have fun."
The new-generation model has made significant advances in driving fun, quality and individuality, Goller said, adding the new design solutions and exquisitely crafted exterior and interior details make the new MINI even more modern, eye-catching and versatile.
He said it is once again a pioneer in individual style, premium quality and high technology.
The evolutionary refinement of its design, entirely new engines and innovative driver assistance systems make the new MINI more athletic, efficient, expressive and progressive than ever before, he said.
The car's characteristic go-kart feeling is now enhanced with ride comfort as adjustable dampers are offered as an option for the first time.
More interior space, functionality and refinement of materials and finish reflect the maturity of the latest generation, said Goller.
In the new model, the luggage compartment has been expanded by 30 percent.
Goller said innovative driver assistance systems and the latest MINI Connected features allow even more interaction between the driver and car. And the new MINI is the first automobile in its class to be fitted with LED headlamps and a heads-up display.