Published on November 2nd, 2021 | by Subhash Nair


MINI Sales Keep Tumbling In The USA, So They’re Trying Artsy Roofs

The MINI brand has its roots as a mass-market mover, but by the 1980s it had completed its transformation into a fashion icon. Over time, its two-tone roof became an easily identifiable design trait and many owners would go on to customise their classic MINI’s roof. The Union Jack became a popular option as a roof top graphic. More recently, under BMW Group, the company has released a multitone roof option.

Now, MINI are playing with other takes on the roof with a limited edition rooftop collection specifically made for the US market, where sales figures for the brand has been dwindling. Ever since BMW Group relaunched the brand, sales have been kept above the 24,000 mark. Last year, they got dangerously close to that line and this year looks no better.

MINI Rooftop art pieces

MINI USA has commissioned artists to transform these MINI rooftops into art. These will be displayed as murals and be available for a limited time, though it is unclear if MINI intends to sell them.

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About the MINI Rooftop Art pieces

The works of art were created by three artists with diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences growing up in the United States of America:

Rich Tu’s “Hiraya”

  • Based in Brooklyn
  • First-generation Filipino American
  • Hosts First Generation Burden Podcast focusing on the integration of immigrants in the creative community

Shane Griffin’s “ChromaFlow”

  • Award-winning, multi-disciplinary visual artist and director
  • Worked with many pop culture icons, including Kanye West, Kid Cudi and Wiz Khalifa
  • Draws on surrealism and abstraction

Shawna X’s “Roads we travel”

  • Independent artist and visual director
  • Visual design in digital, spatial and motion spaces
  • X is a reference to her Chinese name Xiayun

How bad is MINI doing in the USA?

According to, MINI sales in the United States peaked in 2012 with 71,100 cars sold. However, that number has been sharply declining, with just 28,000 units sold in 2020. It wasn’t just the pandemic, either – 2019 sales numbered just 36,000. This year’s not over, but sales looks barely better now than they did last year. Our theory is that the problem is threefold.

First, MINI lacked a compelling electric option. The MINI Electric that was eventually released had a range of under 200km, putting it way behind the competition.

The second issue is that MINI’s brand runs contrary to the popular SUV format. Yes, they have the Countryman, but that barely looks like an SUV.

Finally, and this one’s very subjective, the brand has painted itself into a corner in terms of design. The MINI brand was given a new look 20 years ago and BMW has not severely evolved the formula since. They’ve added variety, improved equipment and upped performance, but the MINI brand has stagnated as of late.

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Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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