According to Bloomberg sources, BMW turned to a questionable strategy to keep its number one sales spot last year on the US premium market.
The dispute over the luxury sales crown in the United States in 2015 has apparently entered into a new chapter. After a report from the automotive data researcher IHS/Polk that pointed out Lexus to actually be the leader of the premium market in the US last year, there are now new allegations that question BMW’s position. The German automaker narrowly sold more cars in 2015 than Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, but it allegedly boosted its figures by paying dealers to buy BMWs for their fleets of loaner vehicles. The Munich-based automaker was not the only one using this strategy, but BMW was more persuasive in its actions, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. And according to them, if BMW had not used such tactics, they might have lost the No. 1 spot to Lexus. But, as mentioned above, Toyota’s premium division supposedly outsold BMW anyway. It seems like a never-ending dispute.
BMW allegedly paid its dealers up to 1,750 dollars per car in December to register new models to their service fleets, vehicles that are used when owners leave their cars to be serviced. The dealers recorded them as sales, thus spiking the figures, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because details of the strategy are private. All top-three automakers have loaner programs, but “BMW has been pretty aggressive,” said Frank Ursomarso, who owns dealerships in Wilmington, Delaware, selling BMW, Honda, Buick, GMC and Volvo brands.