There was one point in time when German luxury car makers were racing off to fill in all the vacant niches in the car market, left and right. Now, those days are over, with Mercedes-Benz and BMW separately releasing a statement of their plans to discontinue their niche models in the coming years.
The two candidates facing the death sentence? The traditional convertible and coupe.
The news of model downsizing was released by both BMW’s global sales chief Ian Robertson and Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche. One of their main reasons is lackluster sales.
“The specialty cars, these coupes and convertibles, were always niche cars,” said Zetsche. “The expansion into China and other emerging markets [has] huge opportunities for sedans, but they did not take up these specialty cars. Which makes the business case for these vehicles less easy,” he explained.
Aside from low sales, there is also the case of overcrowded body styles in the market.
Robertson succinctly explains: “The checkerboard of body styles and segments is rather full.”
Robertson added that some BMW models won’t be replaced in the future. Although he didn’t provide specific details, he pointed out that the convertible niche is becoming more difficult to invest in.
It is for this reason that BMW collaborated with Toyota to create a replacement for the BMW Z4. This two-seat, hardtop convertible only has a small niche in the market, so BMW needs Toyota’s financial arm to help carry the cost of further developing the model. The Z4 wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for this collaboration.
Aside from coupe and convertibles, BMW is also reported to chop off its 3 Series Gran Turismo hatchback, and focus on developing the 4 Series Gran Coupe. Moreover, the 5 Series Gran Turismo will continue its second generation by the end of the year.
Robertson also added that BMW is focusing on developing larger vehicles in the future.
“One thing we have said in our strategy presentations recently is that we want to widen our large car scope in the future, so you are going to see the first steps in that direction with the BMW X7,” he said.
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