If and when it does come to the U.S., will the compactX1 cross/utility vehicle compete too much with its little cousin, the Mini Countryman?
In the broaderGroup portfolio, the X1 could be perceived as overlapping slightly with the Mini Countryman CUV, which launched in January in the U.S.
But the two vehicles are different products that share no components or marketing philosophy, says Tom Plucinsky, BMW product and technology communications manager.
The Countryman seats four and has a transverse engine for front- and all-wheel-drive applications. The X1 is AWD only, has a longitudinal engine, seats five and is slightly larger.
“We and our dealers believe that there is volume potential for both vehicles,” Plucinsky says.
Agreeing is Shep Nelson, general sales manager of Nick Alexander Imports, a Los Angeles dealership that sells BMWs and Minis.
“We are the largest Mini dealer in the U.S., and we sell a lot of Countryman,” he says. “When BMW first came out with the 1 Series, we were concerned with the possibility of stealing deals from ourselves, and this never happened.”
He adds, “Mini customers can and do become BMW customers, and vice versa. But most customers tend to stay in their respective brands.”
BMW had said earlier that the X1 would arrive at U.S. dealerships in the first half of this year. But plans have been delayed indefinitely because a plant in Germany is running at full capacity to meet strong demand in other markets.
The plant produces the X1 and all three versions of the 1-Series, as well as 3-Series sedans. BMW is not considering assembly of the X1 at its U.S. plant in Spartanburg, SC, Plucinsky says.
The X1 “has been very popular in other parts of the world,” he says.
In the U.S., the small CUV market is popular and one in which BMW is “currently not well-represented,” Nelson says.
“We feel there is room for both (the X1 and Countryman) in the market, he says. “Plus, the BMW will be more expensive than the Mini, so the overlap will not be great.”