Germany and Japan have had a bit of a love hate relationship in the automobile world. VW-Suzuki (love), Daimler-Mitsubishi (hate), Volkswagen-Toyota (hate), Bertel and Tomoko (love). Now, here comes another hate relationship. Lexus is the 900lb silverback in the US car market. It’s Lexus’ biggest market and they do a lot to protect it. But now, some Bavarian yokels from Munich want a piece of that American pie (any sexist jokes will result in a ban … or at the very least, an icy glare from me).Well before Volkswagen wants to be the world’s largest auto maker by 2018, before Toyota (hate), Business Week reports that BMW wants to become the number 1 luxury carmaker in the United States by 2012. “In 2012, that would be my goal, to be number 1, because of all the new products we have coming in,” said Herr Jim O’Donnell, President of BMW North America. The products he’s referring to are the new 5 saloon (Sedan for people who speak American) and the X1 and X3 SUV’s.
Lexus fired back by saying that their sales in March rose “well over 10 percent” from last year. They also added that being the number one luxury carmaker in the United States “has never been our goal” (haven’t we been here before?). BMW branded cars sold 196,502 units in 2009, whereas Lexus sold 215,975 for the same period. Mind you, there is a third player in this game: Mercedes-Benz branded vehicles sold 190,538 units for 2009, and their sales for March 2010 rose 10 percent, according to Ernst Lieb, President of Mercedes-Benz North America. All I can say is “viel Glück.”
Lexus will defend the US market vigorously. Maybe BMW could try the “we support manufacturing jobs in the USA” aspect? BMW has a plant in South Carolina and is scouting for a location to build their new parts plant in the US. “Produziert in Amerika, y’all” as they say in South Carolina….or not.