The sell-down of the current 3-Series coupe and convertible, as well as new 320i and 328d models, could propel the lower-luxury model’s U.S. sales higher in the fourth quarter.
BMW 320i one of many 3-Series variants.
NEW YORK – Following two years of sales below the six-figure mark, 2013 may see the 3-Series volume return to 100,000 units in the U.S.,says.
The German auto maker last hit the milestone in 2010, when it delivered 100,910 3-Series sedans, coupes, convertibles and wagons, WardsAuto data shows.
Sales of the car in the U.S. already are up 8.5% through July compared with like-2012 to 59,052 units, and ’13-model clearance deals are said to be further heightening interest in coupes and convertibles, a positive sign for the remainder of the year, says a topofficial.
“We’ll have to see, but we are currently in the run-out phase of the 3-Series coupe as well as in the run-out phase of the 3-Series convertible, which (are) two very popular cars, especially the coupe,” Ludwig Willisch, president-BMW of North America, tells WardsAuto here.
In the fourth quarter, BMW is set to replace the 3-Series coupe with the all-new, larger 4-Series 2-door. While that could impact total 3-Series volume going forward, coupes typically make up 10% or less of lower-luxury-model sales, and BMW has other variants in the pipeline.
Last spring, the new entry-level 3-Series sedan, the 180-hp, 4-cyl. 320i, arrived at U.S. dealers, and due this month is the new 328d diesel sedan.
Willisch is confident BMW again will lead U.S. luxury-vehicle sales. “Yes, we do (expect to be No.1 in 2013),” he says.
Last year, BMW sold 281,460 vehicles in the U.S., not including 66,123 Mini subcompacts, and topped chief rival Mercedes-Benz, which tallied 274,430, less 10,009 Smart cars and 20,929 Sprinter vans.
BMW “basically” can get the vehicles it needs to satisfy U.S. demand, Willisch says, noting the slowdown in Europe was predicted and hasn’t necessarily led to surplus units for the States.
“We had a plan from the beginning of what we wanted to achieve in the United States, and it’s all working according to plan,” he says. “The fact that Europe is not growing was anticipated pretty much anyhow, and actually if you look at the (U.S.) market, it’s a bit more skewed towards (light) trucks, and trucks we build here.”
The exception is the X1 cross/utility vehicle, imported from Germany, but Willisch says BMW is having no problem meeting U.S. demand for that model.
While some of BMW’s competitors, namely Audi and Infiniti, have moved ahead with plans for vehicle assembly in Mexico, Willisch says BMW’s first priority is getting its new Brazil plant online.
After that, any future plant in North America rests largely on politics.
A key question is whether there will be a free-trade agreement between the U.S. and Europe anytime soon, Willisch says. “That’s a very important factor for our decision on an additional plant somewhere in the Americas.”
BMW’s Brazilian plant, in the state of Santa Catarina, will launch production in late 2014, assembling 30,000 units annually for the local market.