Last year BMW was the top dog Stateside in the luxury segment, yet in 2016 it languishes in third place.
A 9.4 percent drop in sales means it is currently almost 20,000 vehicles short of new leader Mercedes-bENZ and even trails a resurgent Lexus. The situation is made worse by the fact that, as a whole, the US market grew by 3.3 percent in the first four months of the year.
Could it be that Munich seriously misjudged the situation last year in its effort to outdo its rivals and now, as dealers complain, there are lots of 3-Series waiting, and depreciating, in US showrooms?
BMW North America spokesman Alexander Bigleri replied, via email, to Autonews that all luxury brands had slower sales this year, caused by energy industry problems.
“Affluent customers generally ride out recessions OK, but specific market volatilities can directly affect the premium vehicle market, and that’s what we’re experiencing right now”, was his explanation, adding that the expansion of the Spartanburg plant and increase in SUV production will help rectify this situation.
As early as January, AutoNation, the country’s largest new-car retailer, had reported a big inventory of unsold cars, especially from luxury brands.
BMW conceded that the strong dollar enticed it to reallocate its production in order to offset the loss of the slowing Chinese market, but wouldn’t comment on its current supply. Instead, CFO Friedrich Eichiner said that, in light of rising demand, the company is “adjusting production plans and reallocating more SUVs to the US”.