PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — Mini plans to debut a smaller, battery-powered version of its iconic two-door Hardtop. But the China-made EV presents a thorny problem for the brand in the U.S.
The model, built with parent BMW Group's Chinese joint venture partner, Great Wall, will carry a hefty premium given a 27.5 percent tariff levied on Chinese auto imports.
Now, Mini is turning to its U.S. dealers to help shoulder some of that import duty. The automaker is asking retailers for a roughly 3 percent cut in their profit margin. It will come out of dealers' 6 percent "trade margin," which is the difference between a vehicle's invoice and its sticker price, according to a dealer briefed on the matter.
Without this margin reduction, Mini would lose money bringing the car to the U.S., the source said.