Report: Sun to Set on Mini Cooper Drop-top
Going topless is becoming increasingly difficult for new car buyers. Soon, the only convertibles on the North American market will be dedicated sports cars, and there’ll be precious few of those, too.
This depressing statement stems from a report that claims the next-generation Mini Cooper will say goodbye to its convertible variant, leaving the brand with far less whimsy than before.
Supply chain sources tell Automotive News that the current Cooper drop-top will be the last, with the model set to phase out the body style during its 2024 changeover. The last one should roll off the line in February of that year, they claim. Yes, there’s still time, folks.
The unconfirmed discontinuation shouldn’t come as a surprise. Mini sells very few convertibles in the U.S.; meanwhile, automakers — even before the pandemic — were tripping over themselves in a bid to right their respective ships via product streamlining. Fewer build configurations equals savings, and the Cooper convertible was definitely not a simple product to manufacture.
Mini sold 4,031 drop-tops in the U.S. last year, a drop of 25 percent compared to 2018. Volume dropped 31 percent, year over year, in the second quarter of 2020.
Indeed, it seems people who have the money to spend on a convertible are increasingly looking for thrills.
“Buyers are moving to small crossovers while the few convertible buyers who remain can get the … Mazda MX-5 for less money,” Sam Fiorani, vice president at AutoForecast Solutions, told AN, adding that the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro capture much of the rest.
On the crossover front, Mini reportedly has two additional models on the way. Interesting times for a brand traditionally linked to (very) small cars. One of the two upcoming offerings will be fully electric, AN claims.
Pulling back a bit, the Mini brand, despite the addition of the Clubman and larger Countryman, remains a shrinking presence in the U.S. marketplace. The brand hit a high water point in 2016, selling more than 66,000 vehicles. Last year’s volume? 36,092. Don’t expect this year to match it.
[Image: BMW Group]