BMW of North America is on track to set a sales record this year, despite the changeover of its X5 crossover.Â “The 2007 model year cars are just coming onstream now,” said Tom Purves, CEO of BMW (US) Holding Corp. “It’s tough to predict. But we will be better than last year, and the momentum is very good.” Last year BMW AG, including Mini and Rolls-Royce, sold 307,402 vehicles in the United States. In an interview with Automotive News, Purves touched on a variety of other issues.
On whether he still advocates a minivanlike vehicle for North America in light of the slow sales of the Mercedes-Benz R class, Purves said yes: “We have two categories, two vehicles for the future. One of them is an exciting, sporty crossover. It is smaller than the R class and doesn’t have three rows of seats. The other one is an elegant, smart and fast, good-looking vehicle. Even if I could find other words to describe them, I don’t think I would.
“The one built in Spartanburg (S.C.), the smaller and sportier one, will come in 2.5 years; the other one comes later.”
On when a derivative of the 1-series subcompact on sale in Europe is coming to the United States: “Well, it won’t be 2007. It will remain an exciting mystery. If you have a project like the 1 series, which has derivatives associated with it, the project planning can be done and dates can be given, but they are very mobile.”
The new high-technology Lexus LS 460 has been touted as the first true competitor to the BMW 7 series. Purves disagreed: “We don’t deny that Lexus makes a good car, but it is less expensive and it is less driver-oriented. For example, it doesn’t have roll stabilization or some of the features that we have that are driver-oriented. They have a different appeal. They don’t get a lot of our customers, and we don’t get a lot of theirs.”
As for BMW’s prospects in the United States, Purves couldn’t predict sales will double as they have in the past 10 years but said there’s room to grow: “We can grow a lot. The segmentation of the market is such that your penetration and the competition will not allow you to dominate. There are more players in every sector we operate in. While the market grows, we also want to win business. We win it by offering different products like the X5 and the X3.” [autoweek]