BMW sees 3rd straight sales record in 2013, helped by 4 series
MUNICH (Bloomberg) -- BMW said its vehicle sales will probably reach a third consecutive annual record next year, when the automaker will introduce the 4-series coupe.
The 4 series will share underpinnings with the 3 series sedan, while having a broader, lower and longer design to add sportiness.
The United States will be the biggest market for the car, followed by Germany and the U.K., Ian Robertson, BMW's head of sales and marketing, said at a presentation of the new model in Munich on Wednesday.
The 4 series replaces the coupe version of the 3 series. The 3-series coupe accounted for about 10 percent of total 3-series sales last year. The 4 series will have "competitive" pricing in its segment, Robertson said.
The 4-series coupe is expected to go on sale in mid-2013, followed by the 4-series convertible in the autumn, BMW said.
BMW released photos of the concept 4-series coupe on Wednesday, but did not provide additional production or price details. The concept 4-series coupe will be introduced at the Detroit auto show in January.
The 4 series is longer, wider and lower than the outgoing 3-series coupe. It also rides on a larger chassis than the model it replaces. BMW said the new chassis helps improve interior packaging and room.
The 4 series -- developed under the internal codename F32 -- is based on the same high strength steel platform structure and uses the same aluminum intensive underpinnings as the latest 3-series sedan. Alongside standard rear-wheel drive models, BMW plans to offer selected all-wheel drive xDrive versions of the coupe.
BMW has not disclosed the engine lineup for the new 4 series line.
BMW also plans a four-door 4 series gran coupe.
The 3-series line - sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon -- is a cornerstone of BMW's global product portfolio and profits. It is the top-selling luxury nameplate worldwide with 2011 sales of 382,218 -- or 28 percent of the BMW brand's sales of 1.38 million, according to IHS Automotive and the company.
BMW appears to be following the naming practices at rival Audi, which markets an A5 coupe and convertible positioned above the A4 sedan, and the A7 coupe above the A6 sedan. The A5 and A7 are priced considerably higher than the four-door models.
Mercedes-Benz is adopting a different strategy by rebadging its coupes and convertibles to become part of the sedan family as they are redesigned.
BMW hinted it will expand the pricing gap between the 3-series sedan and the new 4-series coupe and convertible. "The 4 stands for greater sportiness, greater exclusivity and even clearer differentiation from the BMW 3-series range," BMW said.
The automaker said the new nomenclature follows the tradition of its 6-series two-door models and the 8-series coupe that was discontinued in 1996. Now in its third generation, the 6 series -- reintroduced in 2003 -- is marketed as a coupe, convertible and gran coupe.
Diana T. Kurylko and Greg Kable contributed to this report