Will Light Trucks Turn Around BMW's Sliding Sales?

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
will light trucks turn around bmws sliding sales

Bavarian Motor Works has found itself in a situation familiar to most brands without a “full complement” of sport utility vehicles — slipping sales. BMW’s U.S. sales dipped 2.4 percent in 2017, and that was after a 9.5 percent drop in 2016. It cites an inability to supply the region with enough light trucks to meet demand as the primary reason for the sales slump and promises things will change for 2018.

The brand plans to launch the redesigned X4 compact crossover this year and hints that it might update the X5 too. Sales of the X2, which was present at the North American International Auto Show last week, should commence this March. On the other end of the size spectrum is BMW’s all-new X7 — which will become the automaker’s biggest model when it goes into production later this year.

“We got for 2018, from the smallest to the biggest car, exactly what we wanted,” BMW of North America CEO Bernhard Kuhnt told Automotive News in an interview. “We worked very closely with Munich. Everything we asked for, we received.”

Assuming the strategy works, BMW should be sitting pretty by the middle of next year. However, if it doesn’t, the German brand will know that its current sales issue is dependent on more than just the types of vehicles in its present lineup.

Kuhnt said the brand is covering its bases though. He claims the 2017 redesign of the 5 series has worked wonders for sales. That model’s 2016 volume crested at a disappointing 32,408 units, while the following year saw annual volume creep up to 40,658 deliveries. “That was outselling its main competitor nine months in a row,” Kuhnt said, “and that’s in a shrinking sedan market.”

The German automaker’s peak year remains 2015, which saw 346,023 U.S. sales. In contrast, Bimmer’s chief rival, Mercedes-Benz, saw its U.S. sales reach a new high point of 375,240 units last year.

[Image: BMW]

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  • Sub-600 Sub-600 on Jan 23, 2018

    Double Decker CUVs are going to be the next big thing. BMW should play on the MINI British heritage and introduce a double decker Clubman. Pip-pip. Bob’s your Uncle.

  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Jan 23, 2018

    They are losing sales because BMW lost the plot a long time ago. When they had real sports sedans people would put up with clutch/engine/transmission issues for the driving experience. Now they are too much a "Me Too" car company with a reliability perception issue like Chrysler. There was a time I would have bought a BMW but now there are so many other cars that are better in general than what they have to offer. High performance SUV? Pepperwagon or Trackhawk. Perfomance sedan? Japan or Korea has you covered. Estate car? Don't have room to list them here but I bet a Volga is more reliable. OK, maybe not. :)

  • Hugh I have no trouble believing they exaggerated somewhat, but I also figure they were factoring in the cost of the research and engineering. I am just disappointed at how they abandoned their own product (again).
  • TheEndlessEnigma Mustang, MX-5
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