BMW is introducing a new version of its BMW X5 sports utility vehicle as it tries to come back from the defeat of the model from the hands of the Mercedes-Benz M class in 2012. The X5, which is called “The Boss” within BMW due to its strong global sales and huge profit margins, will come in a version that features advanced technology – it can drive itself during traffic jams and can avoid people or animals in the dark through its night vision feature.
"We want to get back to the top with the X5," remarked Herbert Diess, development chief for BMW. SUVs have become a crucial arena where BMW is trying to repulse strong challenges posed by Audi and Mercedes-Benz. The increasing global demand for SUVs has caused IHS Automotive to forecast a 41-percent growth in sales from 2012 through 2018 to 18.6 million vehicles.
HIS even forecast the X5 to overtake the M class in 2014. Mercedes, however, will not just sit idly and watch BMW take the initiative as it targets the lower end of the luxury SUV market with its new GLA compact, aimed at the aging BMW X1.
Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche remarked at the Frankfurt Motor Show that GLA "can be a driver” in the growth of the luxury segment. Mercedes is intending to roll out 13 all-new models in the next eight years as it tries to catch up with BMW, which has sold 1.05 million cars globally so far this year. Audi and Mercedes are behind by around 21,100 and 132,000 units respectively.
Audi is also making a move in the SUV segment as early next year, when it overhauls its full-size Q7 unit. Audi is planning to double its SUV lineup to six models by 2020. Dies, however, remarked that BMW is not worried about the upcoming Q7. The revamped X5 is now around 90kg lighter than its predecessor as BMW used magnesium supports for the dashboard and more aluminum components.
Its lesser weight also allowed the new X5 to cut its fuel consumption to around 7.4 liters/100km (31 miles mpg US/38 mpg UK) for the six-cylinder diesel version, based on European fuel-economy data. The M class consumes 8 liters of fuel per 100km (29 mpg U.S./35 mpg UK). BMW plans to offer a plug-in hybrid version of the X5 in 2015. The $52,800 X5 will be rolled out to showrooms in November 2013.