Beverly Braga | March 23, 2020
BMW of North America enjoyed a 4.4% sales increase in 2019, mirroring parent BMW Group’s (which includes Mini and Rolls-Royce) worldwide sales growth. Yet despite the optimism for a tenth year of record global sales, in the U.S. market, the rush for the latest and greatest from Bavaria hasn’t materialized. At least not for the new 8 Series luxury sports coupe and convertible.
According to a recent report from Automotive News, dealers are hard-pressed to move the merchandise – iconic or not – which they say has the highest days-supply count of any BMW model.
More than 2,000 8 Series vehicles sat available on dealership lots earlier this month. As a reference, BMW sold 4,410 units last year, accounting for less than three percent of the brand’s U.S. passenger car sales.
While the abundance of high-priced, slow-moving inventory may be a perceived headache for dealers, the situation could prove to be a boon for savvy shoppers. Particularly those who are admirers of sleek design, precision engineering, and roaring turbocharged engines.
After a 20-year hiatus, the BMW 8 Series was relaunched as an all-new model for 2019. Debuting in coupe form, a convertible and Gran Coupe (four-door) followed suit later in the model year. Standard in the most affordable 840i, a 3.0-liter turbocharged 6-cylinder engine produces 335 horsepower and 368 lb.-ft. of torque. Upgrade to the M850i for a 4.4-liter M Performance twin-turbo V8 with 523 hp and 553 lb.-ft. of torque.
True racing-inspired power and dynamics come in the form of the M8. Introduced for the 2020 model year, BMW M8 variants punch out more than 600 hp and reach 60 mph in 3.0 seconds. Pricing starts at $130,000 (excluding destination, taxes, and licensing fees) for the M8 Gran Coupe versus $84,900 for the 840i Gran Coupe.
Already a niche product with only the Audi S7 and a trio of Mercedes-Benz models (CLS, S-Class Coupe/Cabriolet, GT 4-Door Coupe) as competitors, the BMW 8 Series enters a market enamored with big and brutish SUVs rather than grand touring sports car extravagance. This is an environment where crossovers like the 7-passenger X7 flourish, as evidenced by BMW’s 35.5 % increase in year-over-year U.S. SUV sales.
Additionally, ongoing government shelter-in-place mitigation efforts due to the coronavirus pandemic all but guarantee a slowdown, if not shutdown, in dealership foot traffic. So, what’s an ultimate driving machine to do?
Per BMW spokesman Phil Dilanni (as quoted in Automotive News), the brand is focusing on a “targeted approach” toward garnering interest in a vehicle that is more about opulence than discretion. Luckily, staying at home doesn’t mean car-buying dreams stay put. Especially for high-net worth households.
Online inventories are more readily accessible, average sale prices can be regionally researched, and build-your-own configurators make even the most complex custom orders simplified with a checklist. Dealers are also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by conducting sales online, from start to finish. They’ll even deliver a car to your home or office.
If anything, now is primetime for affluent customers who are even mildly interested in owning an 8 Series and the like. As dealers grow evermore eager to sell “unwanted” backlog, deals (unpublished or otherwise) can make such under-the-radar premium cars a surprising steal.
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