BMW's Mueller-Oetvoes is upbeat about 1 series prospects

'Orders exceed expectations,' brand boss says

Munich. When talking about the new 1 series, which BMW will use to enter the highly competitive Golf segment for the first time, the usually reserved BMW managers from Munich suddenly become euphoric.

"This car will become a real success on the market," predicts brand boss Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes.

The 43-year-old from the Rhineland in western Germany specifically raves about the Europe-wide road show for the 1 series that started on July 7. BMW expects more than 60,000 testdrive participants.

The response is fantastic, he said, adding that the popularity of these events shows "how much interest there is in the 1 series."

In Munich the event had to be extended into the evening hours because more visitors attended than had been expected.

The dealers are also excited about customers' great reception of the dynamic compact model, Mueller-Oetvoes said.

It is true that dealers mostly say positive things about the car. "The advance order situation for the 1 series is looking very good," dealer spokesman Peter Enders said. He said that there is a possibility that BMW's planned production might not suffice.

"The number of orders we received exceeds our expectations," Mueller-Oetvoes said. Order figures are "within the five-figure region," he said.

It looks like BMW will be able to attract future 1 series drivers from the competition. "More than 17 percent of those people interested are VW drivers," Mueller-Oetvoes told. He said that others currently drive Opel, French brands, Alfa and Audi. Almost two thirds of all interested parties currently drive competitive brands.

The online feedback also shows that 1 series customers' average age lies within the targeted range. BMW assumes that the average age of buyers will be below 40.

So far it looks as if the number of customers changing over from the BMW 3 series will be fairly small. Nor will many Mini customers show an interest in the 1 series, according to Mueller-Oetvoes. They have "a totally different system of values."

Mueller-Oetvoes, who has been head of central marketing and brand management since January 1, also said that BMW assumes that average prices for BMW 1 models will be extremely lucrative. The Mini, to give an example, showed that customers of the BMW premium segment are big on individual equipment and are therefore prepared to pay a comparatively high price for extras. "Here lies the difference between a volume and a premium brand."

Mueller-Oetvoes said that it is therefore not a problem that the 1 series has no climate control. "Those who want climate control can order it as special equipment," he said laconically.

The brand boss plans to apply the new marketing strategies used for the 1 series to other model series. Specifically the "live experience", which includes testdrives.

BMW's marketing will develop away from classic speech and communication toward dialogue and event marketing.

"That way we give our customers the opportunity to get in touch directly with BMW," said Mueller-Oetvoes.

Tags: Automakers BMW