BMW Hopes to Regain Lead with Sleek New Model
BMW unveiled the new 6 Series GT in Korea on Wednesday. The Gran Turismo was originally part of BMW's 5 Series of midsize cars, but the new model comes as part of the bigger 6 Series. The Bavarian automaker hopes the GT will help it to regain the lead among foreign carmakers here which it has ceded to rival Mercedes-Benz.
The new GT offers strengthened driving performance and practicality, according to BMW. An active spoiler has been installed in the rear of the car to reduce air resistance at high speeds. It automatically engages at 110 km/h.
The interior has been widened, while new features have been added, including automatic cruise control that enables hands-free driving in set lanes and automatically turns the steering wheel when frontal or lateral hazards are detected. Four versions of the GT will be sold in Korea. It will hit showrooms in November and cost between W92.9 million and W1.15 billion, around W10 million more than the old model (US$1=W1,128).
BMW remains in second place in the import market after Mercedes-Benz launched a marketing blitz with its new E Class and S Class luxury sedans early this year.
Last year, BMW was beaten by Mercedes-Benz in terms of annual sales for the first time and the situation has not changed this year. BMW released the new 5 Series here in February to reclaim its top spot, but Mercedes has not budged from the top spot yet.
The GT has been a steady seller for BMW since its first release here in 2010, with annual sales totaling between 2,200 to 2,500 cars. Sales in the first eight months of this year totaled 2,211 cars.
Although it lags behind bread-and-butter models such as the 520d, whose sales reach around 900 units a month here, BMW believes demand for the tourer is ample.
"Korea ranked second after China in global sales of the GT during January to August of this year," a BMW Korea staffer said. "There is more than enough demand."
BMW is targeting customers with deep pockets who want more interior space than a sedan, but are turned off by the bulkiness of SUVs. Park Hae-young of BMW Korea said, "Demand is growing in Korea for automobiles that can be used both for business and leisure, so we expect strong sales of the GT."