It was refreshing to hear Jim McDowell talk about the joys of adding dealerships in urban markets.
McDowell, who is vice president of Mini USA, told me that his secret weapon for boosting Mini sales in 2009 will be the 10 dealerships Mini will open before the end of the year.
Of course it also helps that Mini is in the sweet part of the market: Its an upscale brand with stylish small cars that get nearly 30 mpg in the city and more than 30 mpg on the highway -- and they appeal to a wide range of demographics and psychographics.
Meanwhile, it has become an article of faith in Washington that General Motors and Chrysler LLC need to get rid of hundreds or even thousands of dealerships as part of their restructuring efforts.
There can be no denying that in some urban markets each of the Detroit 3 has too many dealerships for them all to be profitable. The dealerships just arent selling enough new vehicles per store.
I fail to see how thats a major cost issue for the factories, but in interests of equality of sacrifice you can bet the factories -- egged on by Washington -- will whack em and stack em.
That doesnt matter to McDowell. The average Mini store sold about 650 cars last year. McDowell told me his secret for adding successful points is to open dealerships in markets that already have a critical mass of Mini owners who bought their cars elsewhere. That helps assure healthy back-shop business from the day the dealership opens.
As Automotive News reported in December, exclusive Mini dealerships will open this year in Boston; San Diego; Seattle; Alexandria, Va.; Allentown, Pa.; Pensacola, Fla.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Tempe, Ariz.
Earlier this week McDowell revealed that the next markets on the list will be Austin and El Paso, Texas.
No wonder he enjoys his work.