BMW North America CEO concedes it was a mistake to axe the 5-series Touring for the GT

BMW 5-series GT sales in the US have been disappointing, according to its boss of North America.

Jim O’Donnell said that the 5-series GT was mainly being sold to 7-series owners trading down and not 5-series Touring customers trading up, as was intended.

Indeed, he conceded that he wished BMW still sold the estate version of the new 5-series that North America decided against taking, as the firm was now losing customers to Mercedes.

Read Autocar's full BMW 5-series GT road test

"The disappointment I have is that I thought a lot of our 5-series station-wagon customers would go with the GT," he told Auto News. "In point of fact, that is not happening. We have lost those customers to the competition - mainly to Mercedes-Benz. The GT has attracted 7 and 5-series customers and conquests, but not the station-wagon customer we had hoped."

Dealers have said US buyers had not warmed to the 5-series GT’s styling or hatchback. BMW had expected to sell up to 8000 5-series GT units per year in North America, but it only shifted 2848 in 2010 and sold just 720 units between January and April 2011.

O’Donnell said that one in 10 7-series buyers in Florida had instead opted for the 5-series GT, a car which retails for around $14,000 less than its larger sibling.

He added that BMW in North America would not make the same mistake with the 3-series Touring and it would be retained in its line-up.

“We are not giving up the 3-series wagon because if you give it up, they will go straight to the competition," he said.

He also conceded that it may be too late to bring the new 5-series Touring to the US. "It's in the back of my mind," he said. "When we do the next generation, maybe we should.”

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Comments
4

8 June 2013

GT = Grand Touring = mental pictures of glamorous sports coupes and saloons for whisking one to Paris for lunch and Monaco for dinner. 

BMW GT (5 series and now 3 series) = badly proportioned and not sleek or glamorous, so would anyone wanting to be whisked off to Paris let alone Monaco want to be seen in one.

11 June 2013

underdog wrote:

GT = Grand Touring = mental pictures of glamorous sports coupes and saloons for whisking one to Paris for lunch and Monaco for dinner. 

BMW GT (5 series and now 3 series) = badly proportioned and not sleek or glamorous, so would anyone wanting to be whisked off to Paris let alone Monaco want to be seen in one.

I agree.

GT does not invoke images of poorly proportioned hatchbacks. As much as I do not like the marque, the Audi A5 coupe is what I would imagine a small exec GT to be.

The styling is just ungainly.

10 June 2013

BMW are so expert at niche creation it's surprising to see how wrong they got this.  It just shows how tricky model range planning is to get right.  Their record is pretty impressive however with many more successes than failures.  

11 June 2013

Replacing an estate with a hatchback into a market who love there wagons and saloons and historically saw liftbacks as their 2nd or 3rd car to fetch the groceries in? Great marketing BMW.

As for the car itself, well it's not as if they're on every street corner, but there's been a fair few knocking around in Central Scotland. Put it this way, I see more GT's than I do estates. Then again, this is a market where the hatchback is popular.

Personally I can't see the point. If I want an executive load lugger I buy an estate and accept the increase in cabin noise. If I want a quiet luxury cruiser, I buy a saloon. Why put up with increased cabin noise + extra cost for little more usable boot space? It's not as if the saloon has a small boot, add folding rear seats and the GT becomes redundant. 

 

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