The Mini brand hopes to begin rebounding from lean times in 2020 with the promise of new models, including the fully electric 2020 Mini Cooper SE, which is due in March.
Until then, dealers have been largely getting by on used-car sales, factory incentives — and for most Mini dealers, the strength of their BMW franchises.
"Definitely, Mini buyers are excited" about the 2020 Mini Cooper SE, said Jason Willis, chairman of the Mini National Dealer Council. "We have a very large number of hand raisers."
Willis, 41, is a rare Mini dealer without a BMW franchise. He is dealer principal of Willis Auto Campus, with a total of five dealerships in Des Moines, Iowa. Besides Mini, Willis Auto Campus has Cadillac, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus and Volvo franchises.
"Overall, profitability continues to be the challenge for Mini dealers," he told Automotive News. New-car sales are down, which means dealers aren't seeing as many trade-ins for resale, he said.