- The 2013 MINI ClubVan was cancelled after only 50 examples were imported into the United States (Image: MINI via Green Car Reports)

Yes, MINI Made a Cargo Van.

10w ago


MINI introduced its first long-wheelbase (LWB) Cooper Hatchback in 2008. Named the Clubman, it was a stretched MINI Cooper Hatchback with asymmetrical rear "Barn Doors", and a third door on the right side of the vehicle to allow for easier rear seat access. However, in 2012, MINI introduced a "Cargo Van" version of the Clubman, named the Clubvan. But before we dive in to the specifics of the Clubvan, you must first understand what the "Chicken Tax" is.

While you can read more about the "Chicken Tax" by reading the Wikipedia article, we'll give you a brief overview: you see, in the 1950s, chicken farming in the United States was very popular, and the market price for chicken was very affordable, leading many nations across Europe (including Germany) to begin importing chicken from the United States. During this time, the chicken market in Germany rose by about 23 percent. Europe imposed a tariff on imports from the United States. Appalled by Europe's decision to impose the tariff, the U.S. Government decided to impose a 25 percent tax on imported goods from Europe, including on imported trucks and cargo vans, named the "Chicken Tax". This tax made it not feasible for many European-manufactured trucks and cargo vans to be imported into the United States. This is why all trucks sold in the United States are manufactured in North America (United States, Canada, and Mexico).

Even though the "Chicken Tax" applied to cargo vans and trucks, it did NOT apply to passenger vans. Over the years, many cargo van manufacturers that built cargo vans overseas avoided the "Chicken Tax" by simply importing vans into the United States as passenger vans, and stripping them of their components at the port, transforming them into cargo vans. Ford did this when the Transit Connect vans were first imported from Turkey and into the U.S. in 2010, and they were able to avoid the "Chicken Tax" for awhile by doing so, however, the U.S. Government put a stop to this soon after they found out about it, and Ford now has to pay the tax for its imported cargo vans.

You might be thinking, "How does the "Chicken Tax" apply to the MINI Clubvan"? Well, MINI had hoped that its Clubvan would still be considered a Hatchback, even with its rear seats removed, and thus, it would be exempt from the "Chicken Tax". However, the U.S. Government decided to classify the Clubvan as a cargo van, which forced MINI to cancel the Clubman in the U.S. after only fifty examples had been shipped to the United States. The MINI Clubvan started life as a standard five-passenger Clubman. In order to convert a Clubman into a Clubvan, MINI not only removed the rear bench seats, but also installed a steel cargo cage behind the front seats, and a steel barrier behind the cargo cage to prevent unsecured cargo from slamming into the front cabin of the Clubvan during panic stops. However, in an attempt to avoid the "Chicken Tax", MINI kept some aspects of the Clubman intact: for example, it didn't remove the third right-hand half door. The right-hand half door still remained intact, though it didn't allow for access to the rear cargo area, so it was essentially useless. The cargo area still contained plastic liners (including over the rear windows), and instead of installing panels over the rear windows, MINI just applied a color-coded opaque decal to each rear window. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the U.S. Government still classified the MINI Clubvan as a cargo van, and it wasn't feasible for MINI To import it into the United States. It was cancelled after only fifty units were imported here.

As of 2019, there are only three mini cargo vans sold in the U.S. that are manufactured of North America: the Ford Transit Connect (Turkey), the Mercedes-Benz Metris (Spain), and the RAM ProMaster (Italy). Vans that are sold in both Europe and the United States, and destined for the United States (such as the full-size Ford Transit, the Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo Van, and the full-size RAM ProMaster), are all manufactured in North America. So if you ever see a MINI Clubman Cargo Van on the road, it's not a conversion: MINI actually made the Clubvan.

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