BMW will make awd available on new models from the start
Shelly: 3-series problem led to sales pressure
From now on, every new or redesigned BMW introduced in the United States will be available with all-wheel drive at launch, said Damon Shelly, chairman of BMW's national dealer council.
That promise from the company to dealers came after last year's debacle with the launch of the redesigned 3-series sedan. The car went on sale in February, but awd models weren't available in the United States until late August, said Shelly, owner of Irvine BMW in Irvine, Calif., and Shelly BMW in Buena Park, Calif.
Nearly half of all 3-series sedans sold in the United States have awd, according to BMW of North America executives, who admitted the problem was a major strain on 2012 sales.
The awd problem "created a lot of pressure," to boost sales in the last quarter of 2012, Shelly said. That's why BMW piled on incentives, especially in December.
"Oh, yeah, they had a load of incentives, a ton. I cannot articulate them all. They invested a lot to make sure that 2012 was successful," Shelly said.
Last year's 14 percent increase in U.S. sales, to 281,460 vehicles, aided dealer profitability in 2012, he said.
A key issue in 2013 will be the shape of new dealership facility standards. They are still being developed, and details are scarce.
"We are calling it the future retail initiative," Shelly said. "It is about multiple things and preparing the dealers for the expansion of the BMW product lineup."
BMW won't require major brick-and-mortar changes. Instead, it will call for more technology to better display and sell vehicles. Changes will include overhead screens, iPads and other tablets, he said.
Shelly said: "BMW feels like we have capacity for the volume, and that is very encouraging for us."
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