Mercedes Expands US Sales Lead on BMW. Should We Care?

Oct 5 • Opinion, Sales/Marketing5 Comments

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.

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  • johnparke

    Or, and I am just spitballin here it could be that people prefer the E90 over the F30.

    Just for the record I am an E46 owner, so I am not naturally biased between the two.

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      It’s a fascinating question because the F30 has been so well received by the motoring press.

      • Evan

        The motoring press reviews seem luke-warm with the F30 being better at everything the other makes have been better at and the steering/involvement being dialed down. C&D mentions that the E90 would beat it. And after driving the F30, I agreed and so I ordered an end of production E91. With a little more tuning and a bit more BMW in the handling department, the F30 would be excellent. Its interior and exterior styling are fresh and the technology on offer is good. Plus the mpg is much improved with no loss in performance. The F10 needs A LOT more to get back to being a BMW. And I do agree that the new lines and packaging is very limiting or expensive as you check nothing or check it all… In the end, get the xDrive variants out for a few months and we’ll see where the F30 sits sales-wise. The F10 will need a lot of help though…. This has reminded that I should go drive it again now that it’s been 7 months since my first encounter…..

  • CiaoBoy

    The F30 doesn’t look as good as the E90. First, the pinched headlights are strange, and the gap between the emblem and the hood is so apparent that it stands out like a sore thumb even on black-colored cars. It is totally obvious and ugly on light-colored cars, especially white ones. The E90 had a much better integration of that line by following the grill. Also, with the separation of the different Sport/Luxury/Modern/M Sport Lines, one cannot configure a car exactly the way one wants, if one wants a mix between two or more of those philosophies. At least with the E90, one could pick and choose all the options and come up with a car that transcended those artificial categorizations.

  • Dusty S

    One thing I’ve noticed while at the BMW dealership and looking at MINI’s, is that the 3 new lines per class of BMW car has raised the price by 2 grand. I’ve used their on-line builders and the 3 Series seems a lot more expensive this year than compared to last. The base 3 Series with no trim line is pretty plain jane with no trim to dress up the outside of the car…

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