Click above for a high-res gallery of the 2009 MINI Cooper S Convertible

Despite the overall weak forecast for automobile sales in 2009 in the United Sates and abroad, MINI USA head Jim McDowell is expecting increased sales for his diminutive brand; higher even than record sales of 54,077 posted in 2008, which was an increase of nearly 30% over '07. McDowell points to things like a brand-new convertible model finally hitting the sales floor in late March, increased traffic at the brand's website and the fact that all but one MINI dealership in the U.S. were profitable last year.

This promise of profitability has 13 new dealerships hoping to come online in the U.S. by March of 2010. More locations should translate into more units sold, making 2009 – the 50th anniversary of the iconic original MINI design – another banner year for BMW's smallest brand.

Related GalleryFirst Drive: 2009 MINI Cooper S Convertible

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]