ORLANDO -- Mini dealers will get a glimpse of the new-generation Cooper hardtop next week at a worldwide dealer meeting in Helsinki, Finland.
The hardtop is scheduled to go on sale in March 2014 and is the first vehicle to be built on a BMW platform that will spawn 10 to 12 compact Mini and BMW front-wheel-drive models. The platform is known as UKL.
About 60 dealers attended the first Mini make meeting held at an NADA convention. Dealers said they weren't given details about the new generation of cars because of the upcoming Helsinki event, at which they will drive the new Paceman, a coupe version of the Countryman crossover.
The Paceman is Mini's seventh model and will go on sale in the United States on March 16, said Jim McDowell, vice president of Mini USA. It is the only new vehicle launching in 2013.
McDowell told dealers the brand will set a sales record in 2013. In 2012, sales were 66,123, up 15 percent. The Paceman will help growth, but it will be a halo car rather than a volume vehicle, said McDowell. "There is also increased appeal for the Cooper hardtop and the convertible."
Mini held a make meeting because "we are a fully mature franchise now," with 115 U.S. stores, said McDowell.
Mini also told dealers it will spend 30 percent more on marketing this year than it did in 2012, said Paul Brown, owner of Dreyer & Reinbold Mini in Indianapolis, one of the original Mini dealerships from 2002. "We were told the marketing will be broad-based."
McDowell did not disclosed Mini's marketing spend but said "it is the biggest year-on-year increase we have had."