BMW races to the top with new X1
The smallest of BMW's four-model crossover lineup was designed to attract cost-conscious young buyers who want to be eco-friendly without sacrificing performance or the security of optional all-wheel drive.
The combination of those factors has led to high initial demand.
Through July, BMW has sold 55,550 X1s. Since its market launch in late-October 2009, more than 64,049 X1s have been sold, the company said.
The X1's strong debut made it Europe's first-half sales leader among all premium SUVs, according to UK-based market researcher JATO Dynamics, which does not yet have European sales data for January-July.
It should be noted that the X1 is the first car in what will become the premium small SUV segment. Along with being smaller, the X1 is at least 9,000 euros less expensive than the other premium SUVs in the segment. The X1, which starts at 27,200 euros (about $35,800) in Germany, will begin to get direct rivals soon. The Audi Q3 and Saab 9-4X are due to arrive in 2011. Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti also are expected to challenge the X1, which also will get competition from the Countryman made by sister brand Mini. The Countryman will go on sale in Europe in September with prices starting at 20,200 euros in Germany. U.S. sales begin in early 2011.
Key new model
At BMW, the X1 currently ranks fourth overall in the brand's European sales after the 3-, 1- and 5-series model lines. Globally, the X1 is BMW's No. 5-selling model, a ranking that should improve once U.S. sales start next year.
In terms of sales within its first nine months on the market, the X1 is doing even better than the larger, more expensive X3, which was introduced in January 2004 and quickly became Europe's top-selling premium SUV. The X3, which was Europe's first premium medium SUV, was tops in its segment until being dethroned last year by the Audi Q5, which is now No. 2 to the X1 JATO data shows. (See table, bottom)
When asked earlier this year where BMW is getting its X1 customers, BMW sales boss Ian Robertson said some are transitioning from the first-generation X3, which will be replaced by an all-new model starting in Europe in November and the United States before the end of this year.
"But there are a lot of new customers coming from near-premium brands because it is quite competitively priced," Robertson said about the X1.
When asked which near-premium brands he meant he confirmed it has been marques such as Saab and Lancia. He added that the X1 also is winning customers from top-of-the-range models from volume brands such as Ford and Volkswagen.
Correction: The sDrive 18d emits 136 g/km of CO2
Name: BMW X1.
Launch date: Europe, November 2009; United States, 2011.
Main competitors: Audi Q3, Saab 9-4X (both due in 2011), Mini Countryman
Annual sales forecast: None given; through July 2010, 55,550
Where built: Leipzig, Germany.
Base price: 27,200 euros (about $35,800)
Cleanest model sDrive18d with 5.2 liters per 100km (45 U.S. mpg) and 136 g/km of CO2
The best bits: Fuel-saving technologies such as stop-start, brake energy regeneration, optimized aerodynamics and tires with low roll resistance; optional xDrive all-wheel-drive system that improves handling and performance in all weather conditions; optional high-beam assistant that automatically dims the headlights when the system detects another car is approaching from the opposite direction or when the X1 gets too close to the vehicle ahead.
You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at firstname.lastname@example.org.