DETROIT – The seventh generation of BMW’s popular 5-Series sedan debuts here at the North American International Auto Show as the BMW Group celebrates global 2016 sales of 2.4 million units, with each brand delivering at least 5% more vehicles than the prior year.
Worldwide, customers purchased 2 million BMW-brand vehicles, 360,233 Minis and 4,011 Rolls-Royce cars in 2016.
In the U.S., 2016 was a mixed bag for the BMW brand, as sales of 365,204 vehicles reflect a 9.7% decrease from 2015 and as deliveries dipped for the X4, X5 and X6 utility vehicles relative to the prior year, according to WardsAuto data.
Further trouble: 3-Series, 4-Series and 5-Series sales in the U.S. were down as much as 26% from 2015, and the Tesla Model S has lurched to No.1 in WardsAuto’s Upper Luxury segment, with 26,605 units, pushing the BMW 7-Series (with 12,918) to No.3 in the group, behind the No.2 Mercedes S-Class (18,803 units).
But the new 2-Series coupe is selling well, up 19.2% to 15,519 units in 2016, and the X1 and X3 utes are showing big sales increases.
BMW Board Member Ian Robertson looks to the brand’s growing pool of fuel-sipping plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles as critical offerings to carry it well into the future.
“BMW Group is the world’s most successful provider of plug-in hybrid vehicles in the premium segment,” Robertson says.
In 2016, he says BMW “reached a great milestone” of 100,000 electrified vehicles on the road – a combined figure over the past three years since launch of the i3 EV. “This year we are aiming for a new milestone: to deliver another 100,000 electrified vehicles in 2017, alone.”
Helping with that goal will be arrival of a plug-in hybrid version of the new 5-Series (530e iPerformance) and Mini Countryman, followed by two new all-electric entries: a Mini in 2019 and BMW X3 in 2020.
“Success of our electrified vehicles shows we are already well on track, and our message is clear,” he says. “We intend to remain at the forefront of electro-mobility.”
The ’18 530e iPerformance, going on sale in the U.S. in April, will be offered in both rear- and all-wheel drive with a starting price of $51,400. In the European test cycle, Robertson says the car can drive in battery mode for 31 miles (50 km) and achieves equivalent fuel economy of 123 mpg-e (1.9 L/100 km).
With a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cyl. paired to an electric motor for a combined 248 hp, the new PHEV has a powertrain similar to that of the BMW 330e, which performed well during Wards 10 Best Engines testing last fall. BMW says the new 530e is capable of a sprint to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.8 seconds.
Also arriving in spring is the ’18 M550i XDrive sedan, which takes the top spot in the 5-Series lineup with a starting price of $72,100. The M550i gets a modified version of BMW’s twin-turbo 4.4L V-8, rated at 456 hp and 480 lb.-ft. (651 Nm) of torque and capable of propelling the sedan to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds.
More immediately, the high-volume versions of the new 5-Series, the 530i and 540i, come to market next month. The 530i uses a 2.0L turbo-4, while the 540i will get BMW’s B58 3.0L turbocharged inline 6-cyl., which recently won a second straight Wards 10 Best Engines trophy for its use in the M240i.
Robertson says U.S. dealers have sold out their allotment of ’16 5-Series cars, so the new ’17 models should begin moving quickly through showrooms.
Unlike the PHEV and V-8 variants coming in spring, these first models will be marketed as ’18 models, available both with rear- and all-wheel drive.
Also beginning production this spring is the X2 compact “sport-activity coupe,” which is on the show floor here in concept form.