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We're primo, says BMW

Roundel rotating well: Thanks to the success of the new 3 Series sedan, BMW sales are flying high around the globe.

New BMW chief vows the company will remain the world's number one premium car-maker

BMW logo29 Sep 2006

By MARTON PETTENDY

BMW claims to be the world's number one premium car brand, as well as the world's best-selling premium car group, and says its strategy to target luxury segments via its BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce marques will not change under new chairman, Dr Norbert Reithofer - who replaced long-serving BMW chief Dr Helmut Panke on September 1.

The car giant also says its dominant share among the three major German manufacturers of luxury vehicles is echoed in Australia, where the company's passenger car sales are up six per cent so far in 2006 - due largely to the popularity of the new E90 version of its volume-selling 3 Series sedan and despite total industry sales falling short of last year's record levels.

"Nowhere within major markets in the world (outside Germany) does BMW have a higher share in the luxury segment than in Australia ," said BMW Group Australia managing director Dr Franz Sauter at the E92 3 Series Coupe launch on September 13.

According to BMW, the group currently holds a 26.3 per cent share of the sales generated between itself, Mercedes-Benz and Audi in Australia – equal with Belgium and second only to Germany, where the BMW Group has attracted 28.3 per cent of the three rivals' sales so far this year.

The group's fourth-best market share is in China (24.7 per cent), with Spain rounding out the top five nations for BMW with a 24.3 per cent market share.

BMW says the market share of its 5 Series is also high in Australia, which is currently the third best-selling country for the model in terms of market share compared to competitors from Benz and Audi ( 45.8 per cent).

The 5 Series is the most popular among the Germans in Canada (57.0 per cent), followed by the US (46.4 per cent), while the UK (45.1 per cent) trails Australia in terms of 5 Series sales versus E-class and A6.

However, throw in other luxury brands like Lexus, which has a significant market penetration in the US, and BMW's market share is significantly lower both globally and in Australia.

BMW's first-generation Mini run-out has begun in earnest ahead of its R56 successor's arrival here in 2007, but sales are expected to fall short of 2005 figures, with 1461 hatches and 642 cabrios sold last year, and 1375 hatches and 625 cabrios expected to be shifted in 2006.

 center imageLeft: 3 Series Coupe and 5 Series sedan (below).

While BMW's "Full Circle" vehicle buy-back scheme, which has attracted about 3000 customers in two years and now covers all BMW models except Z4 and M cars, is claimed to have increased new-car sales, new models like the E90 and limited-edition or special equipment packs have also driven sales growth.

The include the "One plus One" campaign, which offers the 1 Series with Australia's first integrated iPod entertainment system, the 5 Series' Professional Pack, extra standard equipment for the X5 and the limited-edition "Luminance" version of 7 Series.

The BMW brand has sold 8079 passenger vehicles to August 2006 (compared with 7620 for the same period in 2005) and holds a two per cent overall market share - up from 1.9 per cent last year. Its major rival Mercedes-Benz is down 2.8 per cent in the same period with 7673 sales, while Audi's passenger car sales are up 12.3 per cent to 3474 vehicles.

BMW's SUV sales have slumped this year, with X3 and X5 down 9.3 and 22.5 per cent respectively in 2006. However, their combined total of 2258 sales still betters that of Mercedes' M-class, sales of which are up a big 152.5 per cent to have attracted 1702 customers this year. Parent company DaimlerChrysler's Jeep brand has also found 982 homes for its Grand Cherokee.

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