Demand isn't limited to the EV-friendly coastal metros. Of the brand's 121 dealers, 97 have taken pre-orders for the SE. Mini expects to sell about 2,000 units in the U.S. by the end of this year.
The Cooper SE can't come soon enough for Mini dealers desperate for new product to lure shoppers into their stores. Mini's U.S. sales were 36,092 last year, down 17 percent from 2018.
The electric Mini will bring much needed energy back to the brand, said Jason Willis, chairman of the Mini National Dealer Council.
"Product gets people in," said Willis, dealer principal of Willis Auto Campus in Des Moines, Iowa. "Our showrooms have been kind of the same thing for a couple years."
Peyton assured dealers the factory is working to salve their pain points.
Mini dealers want more competitive lease pricing and entry-level products.
"We are probably $50 to $100 more than what our customers think they are going to be when they come in," Willis said. "Customers come in the door and are hit with a little bit of sticker shock."
Mini is working to get pricing in the "sweet spot," Peyton acknowledged.
To make the brand more affordable, in 2018 Mini introduced a budget-priced version of the Mini Cooper two- and four-door Hardtop.
The Mini Cooper Oxford Edition, which starts at $20,600, including shipping, was initially offered only to college students and military personnel but is now available to all consumers for a limited time, a spokesman said.
Mini is gearing up to expand the Oxford Edition line.
"We told dealers we will be talking about a Countryman Oxford Edition probably in the next month or so," Peyton said.
Profitability continues to be a hot- button issue with dealers.
While new product is in the development pipeline, it will take time for it to make it to the market. In the meanwhile, Mini dealers must figure out to a way to keep the lights on.
To help dealers get through the dry spell, Mini has boosted the amount of factory incentives dealers potentially can earn in return for meeting factory goals in categories such as compliance with facility standards, dealer training and exclusivity.
While Mini is making progress on addressing dealer concerns, Peyton conceded, "it's still taking time to get us where we need to be."