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BMW GT range not extinct yet

Not so active: Sales of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer have been impacted by the successful launch of the second-generation X1 in Australia.

Sales ups and downs at BMW, but controversial 3 and 5 Series GT models to stay

6 May 2016

BMW it is committed to the polarising 5 Series and 3 Series Gran Turismo (GT) models despite slow sales in Australia as the company prepares for the launch of the next-generation 5 Series.

The German car-maker launched the controversially designed 5 Series GT in April 2010, with an update in 2013, while the smaller 3 Series GT arriving late in 2013.

As the brand’s Australian arm ramps up for the next-generation 5 Series in the first half of next year, the fate of the GT has not yet been sealed, according to BMW Australia head of product and market planning Shawn Ticehurst.

The smaller GT-bodied 3 Series version also remains a contributor, according to Mr Ticehurst, who said there was never a plan for the GTs to be volume sellers.

“They fill a gap and sell well at what they are expected to,” he said at the 330e plug-in hybrid launch in Melbourne. “It's for a customer that doesn't want a car sold in large volumes.”

While the 3 Series GT’s future will be decided at a later date, the imminent arrival of the 5 Series update means a decision on the larger GT will be made much sooner, although BMW maintains it is satisfied with the GT sales.

“We're pleased with the way they are going, sales volumes are good … there are some cars that will serve their role, doing enough volume and meeting the demand that's out there. It serves its purpose.

“The 5 Series is on the horizon and while nothing has been confirmed for that car yet, but it looks likely. (The) 3 Series is still a long way away.

Mr Ticehurst said the roll out would would include a number of variants and that the GT body style was likely.

“It will be next year, 2017, for the new 5 Series, we'll kick off with the sedan nearer the start of the year and we'll roll out the range after that.

Most likely it will include the GT, but that we haven’t confirmed anything yet, it's being discussed at the moment.”

The 5 Series GT is the second slowest selling BMW so far this year, behind the $300,000 i8 plug-in hybrid supercar, with just 40 units sold to the end of April – the same tally it had achieved in the same period in 2015.

Annual sales for the 5 Series peaked in 2013 when BMW sold 187 units, while the 3 Series GT has fared better, shifting 317 units in 2014 and then 238 last year. So far this year it has found 84 homes in Australia, down 5.6 per cent over January to April 2014.

Slowing sales of the 2 Series Active Tourer tall-boy hatch – down by 46 per cent so far this year – in the face of growing interest in the X1 compact SUV with which it shares its UKL front-drive platform (volumes are up 291 per cent) is not of great concern to the car-maker.

BMW Australia made a concerted effort to improve the value of the higher-end all-wheel drive variants in the new X1 range, according to Mr Ticehurst.

“X1 has definitely had an extremely strong launch and been well accepted. We've seen a big shift to the higher-engined models, we're seeing a shift from sDrive (2WD) to xDrive (4WD), the higher end models and that's been encouraging. We had made sure they were good value propositions.”“2 Series (Active Tourer) has come off a bit. We've seen 1 Series and X1 grow, we're still strong there but I guess there's been some effect on it, it’s fair to say, but we're still strong in that entry-level car, with 1 facelifted and the new X1 it's to be expected.”

The BMW Group finished last year ahead of 2014’s tally, up 12.9 per cent at 31,622 sales of that, the BMW brand contributed 25,022 units, a 10.1 per cent improvement, with Mini’s 3342 tally a 30 per cent jump on 2015 to the same point, with a 20 per cent jump in BMW Motorrad.

So far in 2016, the trend has continued – the group overall is up 23.6 per cent, with the BMW brand ahead 34.1 per cent, Mini improving by 15 per cent and the BMW Motorrad sales up 1.6 per cent.

Mr Ticehurst was talking sales volumes at the launch of the new 330e plug-in petrol-electric hybrid , as well as announcing an expansion of the dealers selling 'i' vehicles and the plug-in hybrids.

“We’ve expanded our dealer network for 'i' products. We originally launched with six dealers and now it will be sold in all our 18 metropolitan dealers, and the plug-in hybrid cars will be sold through all 42 dealers and will sell under the iPerformance banner,” he said.

The next model potentially in the “e” line for consideration as a local arrival was the 7 Series, according to Mr Ticehurst.

“It's still being investigated – 7 is the next one we can consider, then other models will become available but nothing else has been confirmed yet.”

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