Could it be the beginning of a new downfall for the auto market?

BMW recently revived the iconic 8 Series and turned it into its halo model, but the nameplate is struggling in the U.S., where more than 2,000 units are sitting on U.S. dealership lots. Dealers blame it on poor marketing support from BMW, but could this be a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Is COVID-19 Hitting Luxury Car Sales? More than 2,000 brand-new BMW 8 Series models Siting on U.S. lots Exterior Wallpaper quality
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According to Automotive News, BMW dealerships are complaining that the German automaker didn’t come up with a solid marketing campaign for this expensive model. They also think that the 8 Series is offered in no fewer than 15 configurations, which is far too many and confusing for buyers.

“If there’s 10 customers and you’re offering them 15 choices, there’s going to be a lot of cars sitting around. But if there’s 10 customers and you offer them two choices, you’re going to sell every one and make some money," one dealer told the news outlet.

BMW replied, through spokesman Phil Dilanni, that the company is actually aiming for high net-worth customers. He also mentioned that the company had been planning a national marketing campaign for the 8 Series that was set to launch in April 2020, but was postponed due to the coronavirus.

Is the COVID-19 pandemic already hitting luxury car sales?

Is COVID-19 Hitting Luxury Car Sales? More than 2,000 brand-new BMW 8 Series models Siting on U.S. lots Exterior Wallpaper quality
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BMW didn’t say how the coronavirus outbreak affected the upcoming campaign, but it’s a clear sign that the pandemic is hitting the auto industry. And it’s obviously hitting the luxury segment pretty hard, as high net-worth customers are now very cautions when it comes to expenditure and investments.

It's way too early to make predictions since there aren't any precise figures when it comes to recent car sales, but it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of how bad it will be.

Will this also affect sales of more affordable vehicles? Could this crisis become as severe as the one from 2008? Following the global recession of 2008, American carmakers faced big financial losses that led to Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors to idle factories, reduce employment, and even discontinue models or nameplates altogether. Both Chrysler and General Motors were forced into bankruptcy in 2009 and both needed years to recover.

Is COVID-19 Hitting Luxury Car Sales? More than 2,000 brand-new BMW 8 Series models Siting on U.S. lots Exterior
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Of course, it sounds a bit drastic to think about major automakers going bankrupt over a virus. The swine flu of 2009, which infected at least one billion people, didn’t have a significant impact on the auto market (at least not globally), but the COVID-19 pandemic came with significantly more panic. And panic usually results into stocks going down, people losing their jobs and being less likely to purchase brand-new cars. Just like during an economic crisis.

It will take a couple of months to see where we actually stand, but it could be bad for the car industry.

BMW 8 Series specifications
Engine type N63B44T3
Cylinders 8
Valves per cylinder 4
Stroke mm 88.3
Bore mm 89.0
Displacement cm³ 4,395
Compression rate :1 10.5
Engine power 523 HP @ 5,500 - 6,000 RPM
Engine torque 553 LB-FT @ 1,800-4,600 RPM
Transmission type 8HP76 Sport automatic
0-60 mph seconds 3.8 seconds
Top speed mph 155 mph

Source: Automotive News

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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