BMW AG took the wraps off the latest incarnation of its MINI small car at the Paris auto show on Thursday, a five-door hatchback that marks the brand’s first entry into a segment that the German auto maker says is bigger and growing faster than the market for three-door cars.
“With this model, MINI aims to capitalize on the growing segment for five-door hatchbacks which is twice the size of the three-door compact segment,” said BMW executive Peter Schwarzenbauer.
BMW is counting on the new MINI to restore some sales momentum to the brand, where sales have slipped this year as customers waited for new models to come out.
Sales of MINI brand vehicles fell 9.0% to 175,658 vehicles in the first eight months of this year compared with the same period last year.
However, BMW doesn’t expect the longer wheelbase MINI, to outsell the smaller original three-door version, said Ian Robertson, the auto maker’s head of sales.
Around 70% of the small car segment is made up of five-door models, and only 30% three-door cars. “Our sales won’t reflect that,” Mr. Robertson told The Wall Street Journal, noting that customers primarily associate the MINI brand with three-door cars.