BMW aims to wow Manhattan with pricey new Mini, revamped BMW stores

Every important brand wants to make it big in New York City, but to do that you have to look the part, and it can get pricey.

BMW of North America is spending $60 million for a major revamp of its corporate-owned dealership in Manhattan by building a separate store for the Mini brand in space currently occupied by BMW certified sales.

Both brands are in space that hasn’t had a major renovation since 1998.

BMW will construct both stores as LEED-certified green buildings using features such as louvers on the exterior to reduce heat loads, solar panels on the roof of the Mini dealership, high-efficiency light fixtures in both stores, as well as heat exchangers to capture heat from exhaust air.

The stores will be built with regionally sourced materials that have a high recycled content.

The New York dealerships are the only stores BMW owns in the United States. They are on 11th Avenue and 57th Street.

Mercedes-Benz is building a company owned-store at 11th Avenue and 53rd Street.

The new Mini store will be completed by the end of the year, and the revamped BMW store opens next year. The Mini and BMW stores will be across the street from each other.

Peter Miles, executive vice president of sales and operations, says the new BMW store also will sell BMW’s range of electric vehicles that will be launched in 2013 with the i3 city car. BMW dealers will have to meet requirements for the new electric i sub-brand and invest in specific tooling, build charging stations and have showroom space for the cars -- but those plans haven’t yet been developed so there’s no forecast on the estimated cost, Miles says.

“It won’t be an extraordinary cost like Maybach or Smart,” he says, referring to Daimler AG’s ailing ultraluxury and small-car brands. Maybach dealers spent an estimated $500 million for their dedicated showroom space, and some Smart dealers spent more than $2 million on their stores.

What’s the end benefit to BMW? Miles expects the brands to sell about 20 percent more vehicles than they do today -- which is about 800 Minis and nearly 2,200 BMWs.

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