BMW on the up, despite market dip

BMW logo

The new BMW styling might not be to everyones taste, certainly not mine, but apparently Thais with money to spend on luxury cars are more than happy with the German outfit's current generation of cars.

According to recent figures BMW enjoyed sales of about 2,200 cars in the first 10 months of 2006, an increase of 23%!

This increase would be a compelling enough argument for the popularity of the direction BMW have taken with their bold new corporate image, but when you factor in the 10% decline in sales experienced by the luxury car market in the same period, even folks like me have to concede that BMW must be doing something right.

Niche models

One of the differences in the strategy taken by BMW this year has been the introduction of additional sporty models to the lineup, with the M5 and M6, as well as the Z4 M Coupe.

However we would not expect massive sales volume from a strategy of targeting a niche market, within the luxury market which is already a niche market to a certain extent. And while this has proved true, with modest sales of around 100 units a year from these models, they serve to improve the BMW brand image, and promote BMW as a leader in technology and engineering.

This halo effect has encouraged wealthy, image conscious Thais to snap up approximately 1000 units each of the 3 series and 5 series. With the rest of the sales coming from the flagship 7 series.

More Coupes

Continuing the trend towards a sporty image, BMW have recently introduced the 325i and 335i coupe models.

In the past the BMW numbering system was easy to understand. By removing the first digit, and placing a decimal point between the remaining digits you had the engine size. For some unknown reason BMW have departed from this logic. For example the 318i, is actually a 2 liter model.

In the case of these new 3 series coupe models, the 325i does come with a 218hp, 2.5 liter engine for your THB4.6 million. The 335i on the other hand, rather than sporting the expected 3.5 liter, is a mere 3.0 liter, albeit a 306hp model carrying a price tag of THB 7.5 million.

It sounds like a lot of money, but then you do get a sun roof, and bluetooth phone connection!

Crazy money, or crazy people

Maybe I'm just too poor to understand the desire, or need to spend this sort of money on a car. For those of you not familiar with the economic situation in Thailand, THB 7.5 million is a lot of money. Enough to buy 7 new 3-bedroom homes.

Or you could buy a Toyota Camry, Nissan Teana, Honda Accord, and still have enough to buy three more for your mates! Each of those cars are big enough that you could fit a crushed 3 series in the boot, powerful enough to break the speed limit any time you want, comfortable enough to allow you to fall asleep at the wheel, refined enough to allow you to chat on your cellphone while driving above the speed limit or pulling out in front of some lesser mortal... but then... none of them have the right badge, or cost enough!