By on April 1, 2010

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.

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10 Comments on “BMW Wants A Bigger Slice Of The Amerikan Pie...”

  • avatar

    I wish BMW aimed for #1 in reliablity rather than #1 in market share. Or at least #3.

    • 0 avatar

      Done in one. I’ve stayed away from BMWs because of their crap reliability, refusal to support customers when design problems arise, excessive gimmickry and the “everything is extra” option lists.

  • avatar

    Hyundai and Kia have been heavily touting their build locations (AL and GA) in advertising lately. Wonder if it would work for the more upmarket brands as effectively.

    What about Audi and Infiniti, et al? Surely they’re dipping into the pie pretty heavily. Damn those third-party candidates!

  • avatar
    Brian E

    I think less nickel-and-diming on options packages would be a good start for BMW if they want to be #1 in the US. It seems like it’s almost impossible to find a 3 without the Premium Package – might as well make it basic equipment and fold it into the price.

    If they’re struggling to introduce models like the 1-series and X1 without cutting content, then they should bring over some smaller engine options and equipment levels that we currently can’t get in the US. I personally would prefer a 1-series with a turbo four, good cloth seats, and a few other options (sport package, good stereo) to a 128i with vinyl seats and no other options. Maybe I’m missing something, but seems to me that BMW could sell more cars this way without hurting margins or their brand image.

    • 0 avatar

      BMW could sell more cars this way without hurting margins or their brand image.

      I don’t know about you but there is nothing worse than a stripped, hubcapped, BMW. Just get the loaded Accord if you can’t really afford a BMW.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t say I’ve seen hubcaps on a Bimmer in the States….ever.

      I definitely think Bimmer could tread on ground that Mercedes is afraid of–the mid-$20k range, perhaps selling an “enthusiast edition” with cloth, 6MT, small turbo 4, etc.

      A modern day 318ti, but in a 1-series body. None of the German lux marques have bothered with the magical sub-$30k price point in about a decade (base model 323, IIRC).

    • 0 avatar

      “I don’t know about you but there is nothing worse than a stripped, hubcapped, BMW. Just get the loaded Accord if you can’t really afford a BMW.”

      Piloting an Autobahn-bred RWD car with near 50/50 weight balance and good steering feedback around a hairpin curve at speed would likely bring much more of a smile to my face than any combination of techno-gadgetry, leather, or alloy wheels ever could.

    • 0 avatar

      I have nothing against a stripped, hubcapped BMW. Why should I have to drive an Accord if I want and can afford a basic BMW?

      Maybe the status seekers would be offended by its presence, but the drivers would understand.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think that’s BrianE’s point – they price the 5 series with a manual, yet they’re all equipped with autos for $1,000 more – who the heck buys a manual 5-series anyway? Just equip it with an auto and price it from there and make a manual a no-cost option. They do it the way they do to make more money, which is their right, as is my right not to buy their product.

  • avatar

    The moment any car maker mentions the word “market share”, the deal is over for the hardcore enthusiasts market segment. Simply b/c what makes BMW (or any other car brand) fanatics “fanatics” is not the same with what could potentially make the rest of the population “loyal buyers”. Toyota’s story during the last 10 years is a good example of what will happen to Audi, BMW, and everybody else. There is no exception. You will have 1-2 models that will somehow maintain the core characteristics but they will not be affordable to 99% of the “fanatics” who helped the brand become what it now is. The rest of the lines will simply be desirable only to the average folks with limited understanding and appreciation of what really makes a “good car”. Be prepared for soft gearboxes, bulkiness, safe designs, plenty of electronics, cheap leather/wood, and 4 cylinders. The cure to the disaster is one: well-maintained old models.

    Best to all!

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