Ten years ago, MINI set out to shatter the myth that Americans don’t like small cars. While it was at it, it took on the myth that American’s won’t buy hatchbacks, and that we prefer boring sedans and SUVs over entertaining commuter cars.

In the decade since, MINI has all but established the premium-small-car segment in the United States, amassing a serious number of brand loyalists along the way. In 2002, buyers could only get the Cooper and Cooper S Hardtop, but today the brand offers a choice of six models, including a diminutive SUV, the MINI Countryman.

As Jim McDowell, vice president of MINI USA, reminisces, “MINI launched in the U.S. during the time that gas was cheap and large trucks and SUVs ruled the road. Many thought the brand would be a one-hit wonder, and we are extremely proud that we were able to surprise some of the toughest critics, and at times, even ourselves.”

MINI had a good year in 2008, when fuel prices skyrocketed and the recession first hit, but the brand enjoyed an even better year in 2011, despite (relatively) stable fuel prices.  Today, MINI accounts for approximately 20-percent of BMW Group vehicles sold in the United States, and its dealer network has increased from 66 outlets to 112.

MINI is looking to distinguish itself as a brand, too. Today, roughly 60-percent of MINI dealers are stand-alone facilities (although all have dedicated showroom space), but by the end of 2014, MINI expects that 90-percent of U.S. dealers will be MINI-exclusive.

We congratulate MINI on its first decade in the U.S., and wish it all the best over the next decade as well.