BMW And Mercedes Are Now Realizing What Their Customers Have Known For A Long Time
The word "saturation" does come to mind, doesn’t it?by Kirby Garlitos, on
A lot of people knew that this was bound to happen. The only question was when it was going to. Turns out, both BMW and Mercedes-Benz are finally realizing the consequences of their actions with regards to having too many models and niches in their lineups.
Speaking with Car and Driver at the Geneva Motor Show, Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales and marketing, indicated that while Bimmer still has a few models that are in the pipeline, the current lineup - or checkerboard, as he puts it - of body styles and segments is already brimming full. And so, the German automaker is planning to take action by removing some body styles from its current lineup in the future. In a somewhat ironic bit of happenstance, Mercedes-Benz chief Dieter Zetsche admitted that same thing in Geneva when he said that his company is planning to do the same thing in the near future.
Neither BMW nor Mercedes-Benz dived into the specifics of its plans, but the common thread between the two companies appears to be a new-found willingness to trim its current lineup and get rid of models that aren’t selling very well. In both cases, traditional coupes and their open-top counterparts appear to be the ones most likely to be sent to the chopping block.
“The segment that is not really progressing is the roadster segment,”Robertson said.
And so, a future with fewer coupes and roadsters could be in store for the two German titans. It took both companies this long to recognize it; let’s hope then that it doesn’t take either of them as long to take action.
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Let’s see how BMW and Mercedes approach this brewing issue
It may still be premature to think of it as such, but the word saturation does carry some weight to it now that the two German automakers are finally admitting what a lot of people have known for quite some time now: they have too many models.
Even if it wasn’t on some people’s radar at the time, the fact that both BMW and Mercedes kept releasing so many different variants for the exact same model was enough reason for people to at least be confused at how these companies were differentiating one of these variants from another. The surprising twist here is that neither BMW nor Mercedes specifically pointed to those variants as the biggest reasons behind the likelihood of both companies cutting models from their lineups. BMW’s Ian Robertson, for instance, brought up the roadster segment, saying that the body type hasn’t sold particularly well in the past decade and has had struggles breaking into specific regions in the world.
For his part, Dr Z also opined about the lack of appeal these coupes and convertibles have in today’s market. “The specialty cars, these coupes and convertibles, were always niche cars,” he told journalists at Geneva. “The expansion into China and other emerging markets [has given] huge opportunities for sedans, but they did not take up these specialty cars. Which makes the business case for these vehicles less easy.”
Evidently, these coupes and convertibles are going to be the victims of this vehicular purge should these two German companies decide that they need to thin down their respective model lineups. It’s not exactly the kind of approach I was expecting - I thought SUVs were the biggest culprits here but turns out, they’re pretty much region-proof in terms of popularity. But, the coupes and convertibles have not been, and apparently, they haven’t been for quite some time now.
The good news here is that while there are already conversations within both companies about whatever course of action to take to address this situation, nothing has been set in stone yet. BMW, for example, is still pushing forward with the sports car it’s jointly developing with Toyota\ while Mercedes-AMG has proven to have a hit model on its hands with the GT lineup of sports and supercars.
Everything else though, like the BMW Z sportscars and all the different and overlapping variants of the C-Class, E-Class and S-Class could be on the chopping block soon. I don’t want to say “I told you so,” so at this time, I’d stick to saying “let’s hope that our favorite models aren’t subjected to this inventory purge of sorts.
Source: Car and Driver