Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world’s largest maker of luxury cars, has sold out of the revamped 5-Series sedan in all markets, forcing customers to wait three to four months for deliveries.
“The 5-Series is at the core of the BMW brand and we knew it was going to be a very strong vehicle for us,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s sales chief, said today in an interview at an industry conference in Bilbao, Spain. “In the U.S., where it’s doing very well, it could come to between 15 percent and 17 percent of our business as we ramp up.”
The new 5-Series, which abandoned the flared headlights and small kidney-shaped grill of the previous version, starts at $44,550 in the U.S. The vehicle went on sale in the U.S. this week and in Europe in late March.
BMW’s flagship model competes with Daimler AG’s Mercedes E-Class and Volkswagen AG’s Audi A6. Audi, which aims to overtake BMW by 2015, plans to introduce a new version of the A6 next year, which will test the strength of the demand for the 5-Series, analyst Georg Stuerzer said.
“The 5-Series is likely taking market share from the A6, because it’s in the last year of its lifecycle,” said Stuerzer with UniCredit in Munich, who recommends buying the shares. “BMW’s new design language is more appealing and less controversial than in the past.”
BMW fell 3 cents, or 0.1 percent, to 41.49 euros in Frankfurt. The stock has gained 30 percent this year, valuing the Munich-based carmaker at 26.5 billion euros ($33 billion).
BMW aims to raise profitability by increasing parts sharing among vehicles as Mercedes-Benz and Audi step up efforts to take market share. The new 5-Series shares as much as 70 percent of its technology with the top-of-the-line 7-Series, which starts at $70,150.
Demand for luxury vehicles has rebounded after the financial crisis sapped sales last year. BMW’s sales rose 11 percent in May, buoyed by deliveries of the 5-Series, 7-Series and Z4 roadster. Mercedes sales climbed 17 percent as E-Class demand surged 84 percent, while Audi deliveries advanced 15 percent.
“The 5-Series has a lot of momentum and will likely have its full impact in 2011,” Stuerzer said.
Second-quarter sales of the manufacturers’ BMW, Mini, and Rolls-Royce vehicles are in line with the 14 percent gain in the first quarter, Robertson said today.
BMW is sticking to its target of increasing vehicle sales by a high single-digit percentage, Robertson said. The company said in May that it intends to deliver at least 1.3 million cars and sport-utility vehicles this year after selling 1.29 million in 2009, its lowest full-year deliveries since 2004. BMW’s sales through May gained 13 percent to 552,864 vehicles.
“A lot of markets are performing well,” Robertson said. “Overall we’re seeing good progress.”