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Mini dealers virtually sold out for 2008, diesel-powered Mini confirmed for U.S.

by Drew Johnson

Thanks largely to record fuel prices at the pump, BMW's Mini brand continues to be one of the few marques to see increased sales month after month. However, that incredible success will likely translate into dwindling sales numbers by year's end.

The problem doesn't stem from a lack of demand - Mini sales are up over 33 percent through the first six months of the year -- but rather a lack of supply. Due to the incredible success the brand has seen in the first part of the year, Mini dealers have virtually no supply of cars left for the rest of the year.

According to Jim McDowell, vice president of BMW's Mini division, dealers now only have a one-day supply of cars on-hand, with no relief in sight. Because BMW's lone Mini factory is already running on three shifts, seven days a week, there simply isn't enough capacity to bring a significant number of Mini vehicles to the U.S. According to Automotive News, the Oxford plant is building 800 cars a day for 80 countries.

Moreover, the majority of Mini sales are now to customers that pre-ordered their car weeks or even months in advance. McDowell says 81 percent of Mini's July sales have come from pre-ordered cars.

McDowell says that BMW is considering adding another Mini factory in lower-cost countries, but no details on that plan have been revealed.

Strong demand is likely to continue into 2009, but buyers of next year's model will have to shell out even more for the economical hatchback at the dealership. Mini is planning to increase pricing across the board by $750 for 2009, but all 2009 models will now come standard with directional stability control.

In another bit of Mini news, McDowell revealed that a 50-state legal diesel-powered Mini is headed to the U.S., but failed to mention a timeframe for launch. We can only image the waiting lists for a 50+ mpg version of the sporty hatch.