We've learned that the 2020 MINI Cooper SE is currently not available for lease in the US, it's purchase-only. We've reached out to MINI of North America for clarity on whether this is a temporary policy, or if a leasing option MINI Cooper SE will indeed never be offered.
How did we learn this? As I mentioned in a previous article on the MINI Cooper SE, I had been considering leasing a Cooper SE to replace my 2018 BMW i3s, as the lease on that vehicle has just expired. To that end, I visited my local MINI dealership to inquire about leasing one. Coincidently, the salesperson I spoke with was just about to deliver a Cooper SE. It was in Signature Plus trim and had Chili Red exterior paint.
The salesperson immediately explained that MINI was only making the Cooper SE available for purchase, and there was no leasing product available in the system. He wasn't sure if this was going to be the policy on the Cooper SE through 2020 and beyond, or if it was just until the initial US allocations are all delivered and demand decreases.
About that demand. While this is just the word from one salesperson at one dealership, I was told that there have been a lot of inquiries and most of the original allocation (which we don't know for sure how many that is) has already been sold.
Since I was interested in the base model, the Signature trim, I asked him to look and see if there were any even available. He said he found only two of them in his database that were Signature trim. The rest were Signature Plus trim and the top-spec Iconic trim.
Availability didn't really matter though, because I wasn't interested in purchasing one. I was looking for a lease. It's unfortunate that MINI has taken this position and will only sell the Cooper SE (for now at least) since many customers won't consider purchasing an EV today with the pace of advancements the industry is seeing year over year.
I do kind of understand MINI's position. They don't want to be getting back thousands of 3-year old Cooper SEs off lease with a 100-mile range in 2023/2024, when by then the average EV will get 250-300 miles of range. They could, however, factor that in and set the residual value very low to mitigate back-end losses. It may not have been a very attractive lease but with an MSRP of $29,900, minus the federal tax credit and in many cases state rebates, it couldn't have been too bad.
Gallery: Mini Cooper SE (2020) im Test
We'll continue to monitor this and offer an update when we hear back from MINI on this.