BMW's new Mini is already a success story despite its short history, said Michael Ganal, member of the management board of BMW group responsible for sales and marketing.
"We not only achieved all the strategic targets we set ourselves, we overachieved them," Ganal said.
The Mini allows BMW to participate in both the growth in the small-car segment and the growth in the premium-car segment at the same time.
"The small-car segment was so far the only segment without a premium offering," Ganal said. "We didn't have a competitor when we launched Mini two years ago. However, we expect to have competition in that segment in the future, too."
The Mini also surpassed sales targets of 100,000 units in 2002 by 44,000. Mini is forecasting another substantial increase this year because of the recent launch of the Mini diesel. In summer next year a Mini convertible is due to follow. It will not only enlarge the brand portfolio but also strengthen the brand position and brand awareness of Mini, Ganal said.
BMW also succeeded in achieving a cross-selling platform. More than 30 percent of Mini customers own at least one BMW as well. And Mini customers are statistically seven years younger than BMW's average 3-series customer, Ganal said, giving the company access to a completely new customer group.
Because Mini overachieved its targets, BMW's Mini investment will pay off and the car will also become a success story financially, Ganal said.
"The Mini will be profitable in its first life cycle," he said.
Ganal is not worried that the future BMW 1 series due in 2004 will cannibalize Mini's sales.
"There is zero overlap," he said. "It'll be a completely different product experience and appeal to a completely different customer group. Also, these cars are different in size -- they are positioned in different market segments."
BMW and Chrysler group are discussing ending the Tritec engine joint venture in Brazil, Ganal said, but refused to be more specific. Mini receives all its gasoline engines from this joint venture, but BMW has created a new joint venture with Peugeot to supply engines for the next-generation Mini.