MUNICH – BMW AG wants its sleeker, larger and more technologically advanced 5 series to recapture the crown as Europe's top-selling medium-premium model.
Last year, the 5 series slipped behind the radically restyled new-generation Mercedes-Benz E class, which is available in more variants and is aggressively priced.
The E class starts at 39,270 euros ($49,210) in Germany – 680 euros less than the base version of the 5 series.
Mercedes increased European sales of the E class 11.2 percent to 87,281 units last year while demand for the 5 series slipped 26.8 percent to 77,318 units. (See table, below)
BMW also is counting on the sixth generation of the 5 series, which went on sale in Europe in March and the United States in June, to help defend its position as the world's biggest maker of luxury vehicles.
Volkswagen AG's Audi has set a goal of dethroning BMW as the world's No. 1 luxury-car manufacturer by 2015, while Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz, which BMW passed in 2005 to reach the top spot, plans to take market share in 2010 by growing twice as fast as the industry average.