The all-new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is set to go on sale in Australia in November, but it appears the company may be facing an uphill battle to sell it to potential buyers in an SUV-crazed market.
The new 2 Series Active Tourer is best considered as a small MPV – a category of vehicle that has never hit any great sales heights in the local market – which is slated to be aimed squarely at the Mercedes-Benz B-Class. As such, pricing for the new model should be close to the $40,000 mark.
But aside from a possible lower cost of entry (no pricing or specifications have been confirmed at this point in time), a clear question remains over what BMW will do to convince potential customers to go with the boxier looking front-wheel drive 2 Series Active Tourer over a more rugged X1, which starts from $46,800.
BMW Australia finance director Peter Buchauer told CarAdvice that he thinks there’s “a space for all” models because each will appeal to certain buyers.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” he said of the launch of the new model, touting its versatility and the fact it has a roomy cabin with more load space than an X1 as part of its packaging arsenal.
“If you provide the customer with something that ticks most of the boxes in terms of driving characteristics, versatility and design, you’re bound to find [buyers]. It’s when you get the compromise – when it doesn’t have good design, or it lacks the drivability, or it lacks the versatility. That’s where you [miss out].
“I think it all revolves around that packaging. That’s where we’re very confident with the 2 Series Active Tourer.
“The reality actually will show how it will go at the end of the day. In terms of the way demographics are shifting, you’ll have different people that will go in. They might be your retiring baby-boomers, or young families,” he said.
However, the market for vehicles such as the new 2 Series Active Tourer is down. Its most direct competitor, the aforementioned B-Class, has seen sales drop off dramatically in 2014, slipping 45 per cent to May to 784 units sold – still above the four-year-old X1, which has seen 737 sales to the end of May.
The arrival of the new GLA-Class compact SUV will no doubt have had some impact on that Benz model’s tally. For BMW, there’s a very real threat that the all-new X1 that is due in 2015 – which will share the same front-wheel-drive-based underpinnings as the 2 Series Active Tourer – could steal sales away from the boxy-bodied MPV.
Buchauer insists the 2 Series Active Tourer will find a spot to occupy among the company’s customers.
“I can’t speak for Mercedes-Benz, but it might be customer demand, it might be that the trend is shifting. There might be tons of reasons why the trend is there. But there is a market for that type of segment. We see that in Europe – yes, there are strong regional differences … but I think in that compact segment it will be quite a refreshing new approach,” he said.
“It is always going to be different customer groups. [Look at] 5 Series Touring and 3 Series Touring – some customers like the style, they like the shape. Somebody else says ‘I want the higher seating position’,” he said. “There’s a space for all, and we see that in the market right now.
“The concept is really how can we tap in to that, how can we give our customers something that fits their needs in the typical BMW fashion,” he said. “I think the market shows there is a need out there from people.”
CarAdvice will be attending the international launch of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer later this month. Stay tuned for our launch review to see how it stacks up.