Over the last few months BMW’s US sales have remained flat or fallen dramatically. Furthermore the brand’s bread and butter products like the 3 and 5 series are substantially down as compared to last year while the C and E class are up. The sum of it all is that Mercedes has sold over 5000 more cars this year than BMW. Compare that to 2011 when BMW beat Mercedes by only 2000 cars in total and it’s a little concerning.
But what’s behind all of this? It’s clear to us that there are several factors at play.
Mercedes is aggressively leasing it’s cars for starters. But also the revised C class and still relatively new E are clearly a hit with consumers. What about the new F30 3 Series? How can it be down 22% over last year and the previous E90? With a lack of financing or lease deals BMW is simply limiting it’s ability to move cars. But beyond that it’s also the lack of xDrive on the lots (which is essential in selling BMW’s these days in the northern US) that’s causing potential buyers to look elsewhere.
Beyond that we believe that BMW’s new pricing and options strategy could also be hurting sales. Designed to simplify ordering while move prices upwards even more so by grouping popular options together, it’s a revised strategy for BMW that have quite a few BMW faithful up in arms. Not that BMW’s have ever been cheap. But the inability for dealers to order cars that will sell in their region (i.e. no all wheel drive and priced too high) coupled with a lack of incentives of any kind certainly spells slower sales.
All that said, this doesn’t explain the 5 Series huge drop is sales nor does it completely calm our concerns over the 3 Series and how it’s connecting with the consumer. Yet BMWNA boss Ludwig Willisch remains confident telling the Automotive News that “What counts is that we are in the No. 1 position New Year’s Day and we plan to do that by a healthy margin.”
The next few months should be interesting.