BMW North America needs wagons to complete with Audi and Mercedes-Benz. That’s according to Patrick Womack, chairman of the BMW National Dealer forum and general manager of Laurel BMW of Westmont in Chicago, Illinois. “There is a place for a luxury wagon with great BMW performance in the U.S. market. The Europeans get to enjoy that great product, and we need to compete with Audi and other brands that are in our marketplace.” says Womack, who makes a point we think most BMW aficionados will agree with.
Here at BimmerLife, we’ve been and keeping track of the BMW wagon situation in the U.S. while channeling the frustrations of willing buyers, and the last few years have brought nothing but depressing news for long roof fans. Following the succession of the F31 sport wagon by the G21, BMW chose to discontinue offering the touring in the U.S., just as Audi was launching its 600-horsepower RS6 Avant. Mercedes-Benz has enjoyed reasonable success with its E63 AMG Estate over the past decade or so, but last year, BMW M boss Markus Flasch affirmed that the company had no plans to build any M wagons. That doesn’t preclude something like the M Performance M340i touring, or the breathtakingly potent Alpina B3 Touring, but what about an M5 wagon? We’d like one of those, or perhaps at least a long roof M550i.
Womack, who is aware of the importance of the X lineup of BMWs (he is quoted as saying the X7 was ten years overdue), still thinks BMW needs the wagon to compete with Audi and Mercedes-Benz, and he’s right. While BMW struggles to make the case to sell any touring models in the U.S. at all, the other two German competitors proudly offer 600-horsepower station wagons here, which seem to be just the ticket for those in need of a single vehicle that can do it all.
We know the reality too, and readers who have been keeping tabs on our sales reports will be aware of the growing prominence of the various X models, predominantly the X3, X5, and X7, in U.S. BMW sales volume. It will not be long before the majority of BMW models sold in the U.S. are SAVs and SACs, as consumers continue to trend towards these types of vehicles en masse. We’re not all sold, however, as the data shows wagon sales have been increasing over the past few years in the U.S., and the buyers are typically high earners with college degrees. Need more reinforcement? Over the past few years, a handful of industrious BMW appreciators have gone so far as to create the wagon models that BMW refuses to sell or even manufacture.
Will the Chairman of the National Dealer Forum subtly asking for a wagon in the U.S. model portfolio cause the brass in Munich to reconsider? The answer is anyone’s guess, but we remain steadfast in our desire for BMW to bring its excellent sport wagon and touring models back to its largest enthusiast market.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]