The U.S. luxury-auto market may be facing a new dynamic in coming months: becoming a destination for more and more vehicles that BMW can’t sell in Europe and elsewhere.
BMW sales chief Ian Robertson told Bloomberg that BMW already has shifted “tens of thousands” of cars that originally were targeted for Europe to the United States and Asia this year as sales have continued to weaken considerably in BMW’s home-continent market.
The deepening woes of Europe’s auto market hadn’t registered significantly at the upper end until recently, and now Robertson said that “challenges in Europe are getting greater.” The region faces “a lot of bumps in the road” before it stabilizes, and an auto-market recovery could take years, he told the magazine.
That’s why BMW is eyeing the U.S. and China to absorb more sales. The American luxury market has been getting more robust throughout 2012, while the Chinese market remains strong despite a general cooling of the China economy.
In the U.S. BMW continues to compete with Mercedes-Benz for a 2012 luxury-market sales-volume championship that it won last year over its German rival. The corporate strategy to attempt to sell even more BMWs in the United States, to make up for its problems in Europe, could lead to another round of deep discounting by the two rivals in the fourth quarter – perhaps even deeper than that which ensued last year as the two companies battled it out for the sales title that Lexus had won each year previous for more than a decade.
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