BMW won't launch the X1 small crossover in the United States before late 2011, and the vehicle may not arrive this year at all because of high demand in Europe.
"We are supply constrained," said Jim O'Donnell, CEO of BMW of North America. "As long as they keep selling them, I do not know when we are going to get it."
The decision to delay U.S. sales was made late last year. The X1 went on sale in Europe in November 2009, and demand has outpaced supply.
"It surprised everybody," said Ian Robertson, BMW board member for global sales and marketing. "It hit a sweet spot, and, given all the other things, it arrived at the right time. It sold out in every single market." According to the automaker, 99,990 X1s were sold globally in 2010, their first full year of sales.
O'Donnell said BMW will review X1 availability in April, which means that the earliest it could arrive in the United States is September. O'Donnell said the delay does "not worry me at all" because BMW is currently launching its higher-volume, redesigned X3 crossover in the United States.
O'Donnell said the X1 will be a low-volume vehicle in the United States, similar to the 1-series coupe and convertible. But, he added, "we need to get a minimum for a full year of 8,000 to make it worthwhile."
After peaking at 34,604 in 2004, U.S. sales of the previous generation X3 dipped to 6,075 last year. BMW has high hopes for the new and larger X3, which is the size of the first generation of the X5 crossover. Overall sales of the brand in the U.S., BMW's second-largest market increased by 9.9% to 265,757 vehicles in year-on-year figures.