BMW has admitted that it is getting more difficult to think up new vehicle niches that help to boost profits and create incremental sales.
Germany’s luxury brands, including Audi and Mercedes-Benz, have been battling in recent years to beat each other to market with a fresh vehicle style.
Mercedes set the scene in 2004 when it launched the CLS, a four-door coupe based on its E-Class sedan. Audi followed suit with the A7 Sportback, while BMW’s answer – the 6 Series Gran Coupe – lands locally next month.
BMW recenlty launched an updated version of its X6 4WD that emerged in 2008 as the world’s first genuine coupe-style SUV. Audi will enter the segment with a model called the Q6, and is expected to expand its offering of such SUVs with sloping roofs.
BMW Australia’s product and pricing manager for the 5, 6 and 7 Series passenger cars and X5 and X6 SUVs, Christoph Priemel, says creating niche models is a challenge for the car maker but that it continue to investigate all opportunities.
“At the end it is all about meeting the customer needs – finding sweet spots in the market,” says Priemel. “As long as there is a need for these cars and we think it would be beneficial and customers want these cars.
“There will certainly always be room.
“But certainly concept wise and styling wise nowadays we have reached a kind of point where there may not be a lot more variations coming from the regular line-up… 5, 6, 7 Series, etc. This is already a pretty advanced and spread-out line-up.
“Never say never regarding new models and line-ups but certainly all the time it’s based on meeting the market requirements and demands.
“BMW would not build cars if there was no customer for it. There’s obviously huge investment in designing and developing these [niche] cars.”
BMW has already confirmed it is expanding beyond the X6 with an X4 model that will be based on the X3.
It will also expand its range of Gran Turismo models beyond the polarising 5 Series GT (pictured above), which debuted in 2009 as essentially a higher-riding 7 Series limo. Gran Turismo versions of the 1 Series and 3 Series are due