Good luck with that, BMW.
The upcoming Mercedes S-Class facelift will no doubt set new standards in automotive luxury and safety, while posing a serious threat to its German luxury car rivals. It’s going to make life particularly difficult for BMW, which is pinning its hopes on the redesigned 7-Series to make a mark in the luxury car segment. So far, however, the newly redesigned 7-Series hasn’t set any sales records or regain segment leadership in 2016 as the manufacturer had hoped. But BMW isn’t giving up on overtaking its main rival.
“All in all, we have very happy customers, and we clearly have a target to be a leader in that segment," said BMW’s head of Group Region Americas Ludwig Willisch in an interview with Automotive News. "But that doesn't happen overnight." Willisch believes this could still happen in 2017, though, as sales for the 7-Series were up by 10 percent in March. However, sales for the 7-Series fell in the first three months by 9.1 percent with 2,103 cars sold, leaving it trailing behind its main competitor, the Mercedes S-Class, of which 3,648 cars were sold through March. For comparison, in 2016 BMW sold 12,918 examples of the redesigned 7-Series in its first full year of sale since launching in 2015.
However, Mercedes sold 18,803 units of the reigning S-Class in the same period. Mercedes’ response to the chances of being overtaken by the BMW 7-Series this year? "We like our chances," a spokesperson said confidently. While Willisch didn't forecast a hard sales target for 2017, he said it "would be great" if BMW sold a similar number of 7-Series cars as last year since sales typically peak early in a vehicle’s life cycle. But why didn’t the redesigned BMW 7-Series become a segment leader last year? Rebecca Lindland, a senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, believes the design “wasn’t enough of a game changer,” despite BMW saying that the redesign attracted a younger demographic.
She also criticized the amount of money BMW spent on incentives, citing that segment leadership isn't a "useful goal." BMW spent an average of $12,544 per 7-Series for all of 2016, and an average of $11,095 through the first three months of this year, though that isn’t too far away from Mercedes, which spent an average of $12,998 on the S-Class in 2016 and $11,467 in 2017 so far. In other words then, BMW has its work cut out if it has any chance of overtaking the updated Mercedes S-Class this year, which has already attracted plenty of publicity thanks to its advanced technology pushing cars closer to fully autonomous driving.