The management shake-up at BMW AG has left U.S. dealers wondering whether BMW will kill proposals to export a redesigned Rover Mini and the MGF roadster to the United States.
Maybe yes, maybe no. One thing is for sure: BMW executives are not ready to talk about it.
'No decision has been made,' said Victor Doolan, president of BMW of North America Inc., at the BMW make meeting during the National Automobile Dealers Association convention.
Despite the uncertainty, BMW dealers did not seem overly worried about BMW's unprofitable Rover Group subsidiary. Last year, BMW sold a record 131,559 cars in the United States.
With the successful launch last fall of the redesigned 3 series - and more 3-series models on the way - BMW dealers are making money.
However, BMW is leaning on dealers to upgrade their operations. It is asking U.S. dealers to set up stand-alone show-rooms in return for getting the X5 sport-utility.
In the United States, about 80 percent of all BMW cars are sold through exclusive BMW showrooms. Now, the German automaker wants the rest of its dealers to follow suit.
'We've set guidelines, and we expect almost all our dealers will meet them,' Doolan said. 'We want all our dealers to qualify.'
Dealers will be allowed to display other brands under one dealership roof as long as BMW gets a separate showroom. In other news, Doolan said BMW is:
Moving ahead with the Z8 sports car, which was unveiled at the 1997 Tokyo auto show. The V-8 model will be introduced late this year.
Completing the construction of a $14 million test track and training center in South Carolina.
Improving links between BMW's Internet Web site and those of BMW dealers. BMW wants to discourage consumer use of independent services.