It’s only mid-October, but BMW is conceding the highly contested race for top-selling premium brand in the United States.
BMW’s U.S. sales will drop this year from a record 346,023 vehicles in 2015 because the German brand doesn’t have enough crossovers to meet hot demand, said Ludwig Willisch, CEO of BMW of North America. “It has been a tough year.”
In 2016, BMW would need at least 15,000 more of X crossover models than it will be allocated to set a sales record, Willisch said.
“We can clearly see and compare our share of trucks to what others have, and we are still trailing,” Willisch said.
Light trucks on average account for about 45 percent of most premium brands’ sales, Willisch said. BMW’s mix is between 39 and 40 percent and “that is 5 percent lower, and 1 percent is roughly 3,000 cars,” he said.
This means BMW will not sell enough vehicles in the next three months to top last year’s sales and it is unlikely to keep its crown as the top-selling premium brand in the U.S., he said. “Don’t expect miracles,” Willisch added.
BMW's U.S. sales have slipped 7.9 percent to 230,133 cars and light trucks through September.
BMW was the leading premium brand in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. Mercedes claimed the title in 1999 and 2013. Lexus, which is ahead of BMW through September, held the title 11 years from 1999 to 2010.