BMW 5 Series GT a mistake: North America CEO

The head of BMW North America has labelled the introduction of the BMW 5 Series GT to the US market a disappointment and a mistake.
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BMW North America CEO, Jim O’Donnell, said he regretted replacing the solid-performing 5 Series wagon with the chunky and unloved 5 Series GT crossover hatchback.

“The disappointment I have is that I thought a lot of our 5 Series station wagon customers would go with the GT," Mr O'Donnell told Automotive News.“In point of fact, that is not happening. We have lost those customers to the competition, mainly to Mercedes-Benz.“The GT has attracted 7 and 5 Series customers and conquests but not the station wagon customer we had hoped.”

Even though the current 5 Series is a relatively new design, Mr O’Donnell said it could be too late to reintroduce the 5 Series wagon in this vehicle generation. He said it would be considered the next time the 5 Series range was refreshed.

BMW US launched the 5 Series GT in November 2009 and discontinued the wagon in 2010. It originally had plans to sell between 4000 and 8000 GTs every year, but it managed to sell just 2848 last year. In the first four months of 2011, just 720 were delivered.

Some dealers have blamed the 5 Series GT’s tall and cumbersome styling for failing to connect with American luxury car shoppers.

“Americans don't like hatchbacks no matter how much Europeans want us to like them," general manager of Fields BMW, John Mantione, told Auto News.

The BMW 5 Series GT has been a slow seller in Australia too, although unlike in North America, BMW Australia decided against putting all its eggs in one basket and sells the GT alongside the 5 Series wagon.

BMW Australia has sold just 14 GTs so far this year, down from 31 in the same period last year. Prices in Australia range from $144,200 to $193,900, while two variants of the wagon are available from $92,800 and $138,900.