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.
"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.”