"Wheels not available in the US". Why not?

In a recent commercial for a 4 door Mini, the fine print says something to the effect of “European model shown. Wheels not available in the US.” Are there different requirements for wheels in Europe versus the U.S.? Why can’t we have the wheels that they show? They didn’t look particularly unusual.

According to[this article on Edmunds.com](“Given the unique driving conditions and driver expectations in the U.S., Mini will not offer ALL4 Cooper engine models in the U.S. for either the Countryman or Paceman,”) all-wheel-drive Mini models won’t be available for sale in the US. The official company statement is:
“Given the unique driving conditions and driver expectations in the U.S., Mini will not offer ALL4 Cooper engine models in the U.S. for either the Countryman or Paceman,”*

Which I think merely means they’re not sure if AWD models will sell well enough. Not sure why they think that (the price I assume), but it’s not because of any practical, technical difference between European & American roads or regulations. Oh, and I assume the spiffy rims in question are simply part of an equipment package only available with the AWD option, so that’s why you can’t get them either.

I had to change my tires not long after moving from the U.S. To Heidelberg, Germany. A friend recommended I change to a tire designed for speeds up to 110 mph or so. This, apparently, makes it easier and safer to stop at Autobahn speeds, where I found myself regularly driving at 90 or 100 mph. Most American tires are only rated for speeds up to 85 mph. I’m not sure of the difference. I believe it has to do with how firm the rubber is.

it’s the entire design of the carcass which determines the speed rating.

Those are the tires (rubber part) and not the wheels (metal part). Z rated tires are readily available in the US (149 mph +). I have them on my car.

As far as why the wheels aren’t available… likely just a cost/import issue.

If you imported the wheels yourself (a common thing with JDM wheels) you could put them on your car any nobody would notice or care, so there’s no real reason why they couldn’t sell them here. Looking around on Google, though, shows that it is common to have tariffs on automobile wheels, particularly from China, so it might be a cost issue. I couldn’t find anything specific to the United States, but I’d still think that’s the reason. Most people won’t pony up an extra thousand or more for cool-guy wheels when there are cheaper options that look just fine.

This is totally wrong. I doubt any current car in the U.S. has a speed rating lower than “S” which is rated for 112 m.p.h.

Here is a list of tire speed ratings.

Rim sizes in the US are still measured in inches (it’s what the “R14,” or “R15” or whatever on your tire means). I assume that means that manufacturers outside the US make two different sets of rims, one for the cars that will be exported to the US, and one, measured in cm, for the rest of the world. The particular rims shown are probably not being made for the US. Maybe the wheels on US cars are plain steel wheels with hub caps instead of decorative wheels.

Rim sizes are also measured in inches in the UK.

Most manufacturers export narrower selections of cars than they actually build. I expect the wheels are just an option that is not available for the US (and probably all-non Euro) export market.

I think people here are jumping to the conclusion that “European model shown. Wheels not available in the US.” mean that they can’t legally be sold in the US. I don’t think this is necessarily the case.

It’s quite common for cars to be sold in different countries with different available options and packages. Not because of legal restrictions but because of how, say, Honda of Germany and Honda US want to outfit the cars, based on what they think will sell. Often a car’s available in different colors in one country than it is in another for example.

I think they probably just used video footage provided from BMW (the company that produces the Mini) rather than re-shooting the clip just because of a minor thing like wheels. If it was in a color not available here, or showed a convertible model when one wasn’t available here or something, than they’d be more likely to not use it.

Are there any countries that have specific legal restrictions on wheels that could affect someone who wants to put some foreign wheels on their car, even after applicable taxes and duties are paid? E.g. will the NYPD shove your face onto the pavement for Second Degree Possession of Un-American Wheels with Intent to Spin if they see you driving around the corner with your weird-ass Swiss-made wheels?

Exactly. Here in Canada, we quite often see car commercials where the fine print says something to the effect of, “US model shown; not all options available in Canada.” It’s not that the cars shown are unavailable in Canada; it’s that there can be small differences that one country’s drivers prefer and that automakers are catering to (e.g. Canadians likely expect that a new car’s tires will be suitable for winter driving, while the video shows a car with summer tires), or other differences that are required by regulation (e.g. showing the American car’s dashboard with English words on it, while Canadian cars generally use symbols). It is likely a lot less expensive to shoot an video once, showing a car that is “close enough” and to display a disclaimer, than it is to shoot a different video for every country where the car is sold.

Yes there are countries that restrict you from changing to wheels that are not stock sizes. The US isn’t one of them however, as witnessed by the cars sometimes seen on American streets sporting gigantic chrome wheels with spinners.

Am I the only one who is aghast at the idea of a larger, 4-wheel drive Mini?

360 degree of the original idea. Or would that be 180?

Anyway, its fucked up.

  1. But the BMW Mini is already substantially larger than the original.

Eh, not sure I would go that far with it. Think of the Countryman 4 door with ALL4 as a “mini” version of a Suburban. So, as the original MINI is to a Camry, the Countryman is to a Suburban. Still significantly smaller and much sportier.

Actually, I’m a little confused by some of there references in this thread about MINI not offering the All4 models here. They have been importing the ALL4 Countryman for years. It’s actually one of the cars I considered when I bought a new vehicle about 2 months ago.

Is the last new car you bought from the 70’s? I haven’t seen hubcaps on a current car in ages.

Mini currently offers 11 different wheel options… none of which involve a steel wheel and hubcaps.

My 2007 Nissan Versa has something that the service people call a wheel cover and I call a hub cap. A quick googling shows tons of hubcaps for current vehicles. Not everyone gets alloy rims that don’t need hubcaps.

Yeah, choose a base model of almost any midsize or economy car, and you will be rocking wheel covers. Thing is most modern wheel covers are made to look remarkably like alloy wheels.

Thisis a wheel cover.

This is an alloy wheel.

I stand corrected then.

Even the old beaters that my kids drive have alloy wheels, and I haven’t seen any thing else as an option in any car I’ve looked at recently, but clearly they do exist (I would never consider buying them though).

Still… Mini (which is what the OP is referring to) does not offer a hubcap/wheel cover option.