BMW of North America expects 40 percent of its 2016 U.S. sales to be crossovers, up from 34 percent last year, said CEO Ludwig Willisch.
“In a couple of years when we have the X7, it will be even higher,” said Willisch, referring to BMW’s first full-size crossover, which will be produced at its U.S. factory.
Demand for BMW’s X crossovers has exceeded supply — even with the slowdown of the Chinese market, Willisch said: “In the first nine months, across the board, we had too few X1, X3 and X5s.”
BMW is expanding its Spartanburg, S.C., factory, and annual production will grow by 100,000 units in 2016 to 450,000 vehicles. “We are the closest ones to the plant, so it makes a lot of sense to sell these cars in the U.S.,” Willisch said.
BMW expected to set a U.S. sales record in 2015 with a brisk uptick in sales the last week of December.
“We are in a good way,” Willisch said. “November was a bit of a hiccup — a short month with not much consumer demand.
“The last week in December is always the strongest week. Before that we compete with Santa, and then after that people only have cars on their minds.”
The fourth quarter typically accounts for more than 30 percent of BMW’s U.S. annual sales and is always marked by incentives and special offers. Willisch said 2015 year-end spiffs are higher than a year earlier “but they are not anything outrageous. We need to be competitive.”
According to Autodata, BMW had an average $5,405 per-unit incentive in November, up from $5,200 a year earlier, and it spent $4,892 per vehicle on spiffs through November 2015, up from $4,704 in 2014.
Willisch said BMW is “not making a special effort” to retain its leadership of the U.S. luxury market. BMW took the top sales slot away from Lexus in 2011 and held it in 2012 and 2014.
Does being No. 1 feel good? “Yes, but that is about it — been there, done that,” Willisch said.