Despite the redesigned 7-Series failing to set a sales record or regain segment crown in 2016, BMW US executives still feel like the S-Class can be defeated.
“All in all, we have very happy customers, and we clearly have a target to be a leader in that segment,” said Ludwig Willisch, head of BMW Group Region Americas. “But that doesn’t happen overnight.”
Yet it’s possible it could still happen in 2017, according to Willisch, who pointed out that 7-Series sales were up by 10% in March. That said, deliveries through the first three months of 2017 declined 9.1% to 2,103 units, which still leaves the S-Class in first place, with 3,648 units sold through March.
As for how Mercedes feel about this 2017 dogfight against the 7-Series, a spokesman for the Stuttgart-based automaker said: “We like our chances.”
While Willisch didn’t presume to name a hard sales target for 2017, he did say that it would be great if BMW would sell nearly 13,000 7-Series models, as they did last year – this is because sales are typically highest early in a vehicle’s life cycle. Still, some people, like Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Rebecca Lindland, think that catching the S-Class will be a tough task for the 7-Series, at least this year. She says that the reason why the 7 wasn’t able to top the S in the 2016 was because “it wasn’t enough of a game changer” in terms of design.
She also criticized the amount of money BMW spent on incentives, at an average of $12,544 per 7-Series for all of 2016, and an average of $11,095 through the first three months of this year, according to Autodata. These numbers are quite similar to what Mercedes spent for the S-Class – $12,998 in 2016 and $11,467 so far in 2017.
“A useful goal is to spend the money on design, on researching consumer preferences, on recognizing market changes, and spending time with their dealers trying to understand how you’re going from incredibly high consideration to sales numbers that are not reaching what they ought to be. Trying to regain a sales title? Nobody wins in that,” added Lindland.
Of course, now that Mercedes have come out with an updated S-Class, BMW’s 7-Series could be looking at an even tougher road ahead.