Bucking a trend toward a downsized dealer pool for a number of auto makers, Mini USA is adding 10 stores in 2010 on top of the eight already installed this year.

Many of the new locations are occupying space formerly devoted to Detroit Three brands, Jim O'Donnell, president of BMW of North America LLC, tells Ward's at company headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, NJ.

“We've taken over a Cadillac store, a Volkswagen store, Chevy stores, Dodge stores — it's a complete mixture. And we've renovated them all,” O'Donnell says. “There's not been that many greenfield sites, more brownfield.”

With the 18 new outlets, Mini will have 100 dealerships in the U.S. The most recent addition arrives in Seattle in a former Chevrolet store.

“As a city, we weren't invested in Seattle,” O'Donnell says. The nearest Mini dealership, Northwest Mini, was 30 miles (48 km) away in Tacoma. “He sold into Seattle, but Seattle itself is a population of 3 million and deserves its own dealer.”

With 30 employees, Mini Seattle measures 60,000 sq.-ft. (5,574 sq.-m) and can accommodate 19 vehicles on two show floors, as well as an additional 45 vehicles on a rooftop lot.

Manfred Scharmach owns Seattle Mini, as well as the Tacoma store and another BMW dealership.

The expansion is part of a $360 million investment this year by BMW and Mini retailers in the U.S. BMW has 340 stores in the U.S., and O'Donnell says he expects that number to remain stable for the foreseeable future.

By next summer, Mini dealerships will open in these communities:

  • El Paso, TX
  • Austin, TX
  • Madison, WI
  • San Diego
  • Allentown, PA
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Loveland, CO
  • Louisville, KY
  • Tempe, AZ
  • Mount Laurel, NJ
  • Reno, NV

Through October, Mini sales were down 20.8% to 39,172 vehicles, compared with like-2008.

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