Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer Product Launches Part V; Plus: The Mini Brand Faces a Big Problem



Alexander Carabitses

This is starting to get old, but we've got some interesting debuts this time around.  First up is the 2016 Toyota Sienta.  It's suppose to be some sort of sporty entry level minivan for the Japanese market.  How much do I care?  Well I found out about this car about 2 minutes before writing this stuff down.
(Image credited to autoblog.com)

Next up is more Toyota crap that we aren't getting, starting with the 2016 Toyota Fortuner.  It is to the Australian and Thailand market what the Toyota 4Runner is in the U.S. market, and it looks a hell of a lot better, so it is ashamed that it isn't coming here.  It is based on the 2016 Toyota HiLux midsize pickup which was also unveiled earlier this summer, and it too is better than both the vehicle is replaces and our new Tacoma in every way.  Both models are pictured below, so you can mourn and get angry at Toyota for neglecting to introduce them to the U.S. market.
(Images credited to autoblog.com)

Now we get to the point where we have to cringe a bit, because Honda just introduced the face-lifted 2016 Honda Accord, and... it looks like a freakin' Acura!  Come on Honda, are your designers really that stupid?  Anyway, besides the styling, the car features Apple Car Play and Android Auto; that's pretty much it.  Honda only released pictures of the sedan, but I will post an official picture of the coupe when it is available.
(Image credited to autoblog.com)

Now we get to take a dive into the premium market, with the 2017 Infiniti Q30.  The design is based on the Q30 Concept, which debuted in Frankfurt two years ago; this production model is debuting in Frankfurt this year, where we will learn everything there is to know about it.  The only information that the media does know, is that this will be Infiniti's entry level model that will compete with the Mercedes A-Class, the BMW 1 Series, and the Audi A3.  I personally can't wait to see live pictures of the car, because although the lines look good, it seems too high off the ground, and keep in mind, this isn't a crossover.
(Image credited to autoblog.com)

Finally, we have the 2016 Ford F-150 Limited.  I guess Ford saw that its competitors at GM and Ram had multiple luxury versions of their full-size pickups, while Ford only has two.  Given the sales momentum for these luxury pickup trucks, adding this to the lineup makes sense.  The Limited has what seems like as many amenities as a Rolls Royce, and now takes the title of the most prestigious F-150 you can buy.
(Image credited to autoblog.com)


The Mini Brand Faces a Big Problem
The iconic Mini nameplate returned in the early 2000s, thanks to BMW.  It was suppose to be an entry level hatchback that was fun to drive, and could be customized so that the customers could express their individual personalities.  Here in 2015, Mini has completely lost its way.  The Cooper Hardtop is too big, while the Countryman is the only model making money; oh, and everything else the brand makes is stupid and selling at a snail's pace.  In fact, as things stand right now, the Cooper Coupe, the Cooper Roadster, and the Paceman are all headed for the chopping block very soon.  This is good news because Mini had way too many models, that the lineup was starting to look like a cheaper BMW range.

I honestly don't know what to make of Mini.  The Clubman is making a return after a short Hiatus, and it has had such a growth spurt that the car is now being called the flagship of the range.  Well let me ask you something, if a car brand called Mini is introducing a big car, isn't the marketing and product strategy somewhat flawed?

The answer is a big fat YES, and I have got to say, the new Mini Hardtop (both the 3 and 5 door models), and this new Clubman represent Mini's problem: they are losing their brand identity, as they forget their roots.  Their new cars are too damn big and awkward looking, and given that these were supposed to be the smaller cars, I dread to imagine how big the next-gen Countryman will be.   If you want another example of how Mini is losing its identity, just look at the Mini 5-door.  Yes, there is a solid business case for the car,  yet it will only cannibalize sales of the Mini 3-door.  I only hope that both cars will be accounted for in sales as one singular model, because if they aren't Mini, after several years of shooting itself in the foot,  may have shot itself in the head.  The 3-door Mini Hardtop is the icon and reason of the brand's existence; if they let that go, especially in the U.S. market, there are hurting themselves from an image standpoint.

A small car with personality, that was the idea, but now it seems like that torch has been passed to Fiat, and even Chevrolet with the Spark.  Hell, maybe the Kia Soul has a piece of the torch as well.  Mini has introduced a small car concept called the Rocketman, but they keep shelving the idea of building it, but if there was ever a time that they truly needed a small car, now is the time.  The image of the brand is at stake, because like I said earlier, you cannot possibly have a big car in a brand named Mini.

This is only one of the problems that the brand has, as I'm sure low gas prices aren't helping things, but trust me, the loss of the brand's image is a big reason the brand is struggling.  Maybe this Superleggera Roadster will help the brand out, because they need all the help they can get.  And by the way, all of the German Luxury brands should be paying attention to what's going on at Mini, because in my mind it represents what will happen to Mercedes, BMW, and possibly Audi if these brands introduce too many pointless models that no one is asking for.  It may increase  sales, but it hurts the brands image, and heck, that could cost one of these brand's some sales in the long run.

That's all I have to say for now.  Thank you for reading, don't forget to Like Car News commentary on Facebook,  and have a good weekend.

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