In a recent interview with Automotive News Europe, BMW Group’s North American region president Ludwig Willisch said, “In the mid-term, we expect U.S. sales of 300,000 units for the BMW brand.”
Willisch said he is confident the automaker can reach the goal largely on the strength of its stable of recently refreshed models, including the 3-series sedan which is scheduled to go on sale early next year. The 3-series lineup may also include the X1 crossover.
Although Willisch declined to specify a date, sources at the company said the goal of 300,000 annual sales in the U.S. could be attainable as early as 2013.
Ian Robertson, the automaker’s head of global sales, is also optimistic about the company’s future growth in the U.S. In a separate interview he said, “We want to be the No. 1 premium brand in the U.S. –- this year and in the future.” Year to date, he said BMW is ahead of Mercedes in U.S. sales and added, “We intend to defend that position.”
While Mercedes’ U.S. sales rose 12 percent to 219,491 during the first eleven months of the year, BMW’s sales increased to 221,073 during the same period. Willisch expects to sell 240,000 units in the U.S. by year’s end. Last year, the automaker sold 220,113 units in the U.S.
Both BMW and Mercedes have their eye on supplanting Lexus as the No. 1 premium brand in the U.S. – a title Lexus has held for the past 11 years. Lexus’ U.S. sales totaled 201,769 units from January through November.
Robertson said BMW expects to produce upward of 270,000 units at its U.S. plant this year, compared with 159,284 units in 2010.
He also expects to get a boost from next year’s U.S. presidential election. “Next year is an election year in the U.S. This is why I expect support for the automotive sector. The market will continue to move up a little bit,” he said.
Willisch also expects to see an increase in U.S. sales of the Mini brand. Although he declined to offer a mid-term outlook, he said he expects U.S. sales to reach 55,000 for 2011, up from 45,655 in 2010. He also said the company plans to increase its U.S. Mini dealership roster from the current 110.
Through October of this year, BMW and Mini sold a combined total of 246,600 units in the U.S. compared with only 244,400 in Germany. Combined sales in China during the same 10-month period totaled 181,200 units.
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