BMW AG believes that it will be able to maintain its lead in the first quarter of 2012, aided by the introduction of its redesigned 3-series sedan during this period. BMW is on track to be the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S. for 2011. Ludwig Willisch, who oversees BMW's North American operations, said that it has a broad model lineup and that there are many opportunities for the company to stay at No. 1. Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus was the annual leader for 11 years, but BMW and Mercedes have been battling it out on who will take the lead.
When September ended, BMW had sold 177,679 units for the year while Mercedes had 170,058. These results do not include Daimler's Sprinter vans and Smart cars and BMW's Mini brand, which are not considered luxury vehicles.
Willisch's comments are more optimistic than those of Jim O’Donnell (his predecessor), who said last August that it’s likely BMW will be outsold by Mercedes-Benz in early 2012, before the redesigned 3 series arrives at U.S. dealerships.
Last quarter, several refreshed Mercedes C-class models started selling. BMW continues to offer the older 3-series compacts. BMW said that the 3 series will arrive at U.S. showrooms in March or April. O'Donnell said in August that Mercedes will stay at No. 1 in the first quarter of next year but that over the course of the year, BMW will still outperform Mercedes.
The sporting looks of the new BMW 3-Series is further highlighted by its wider track (plus 37 mm on the front and plus 47 mm at the rear) and the wedge shape of its silhouette. The width of the new BMW 3-Series is further accentuated by a wide, squat version of the upright, forward-slanting BMW signature. The athletic front of the new BMW 3-Series is made more aggressive by the LED accent lights placed – like eyebrows -- above the twin headlights with corona rings (if Xenon headlights are availed).
Since the headlights extend up to the frame of the kidney grille, these frontal elements of the new BMW 3-Series Sedan seemingly form a single stylistic unit, thus further underscoring its already wide stance. This kidney grille features closely spaced, squat openings that have become a visual highlight of the front end design of the new BMW 3-Series Sedan. Moreover, this is where the precise lines of the car’s contoured bonnet end – resulting to a lower-slung front end and a more athletic-look BMW 3-Series.
Unlike its predecessor that featured a central air intake, the new BMW 3-Series has two larger intakes underneath the headlights, thereby adding emphasis to its sporty styling. Small vertical intakes are located on the far left and right of the main ducts, helping create the so-called "Air Curtain" and thereby improving air flow around the front wheels.
As a result, the new BMW 3-Series is now more aerodynamically efficiency and consumes less fuel at higher speeds. On the other hand, the sides of the BMW 3-Series Sedan are marked by taut and dynamic surfaces with sweeping lines, thereby visually stretching the car and lending more vigor to the sedan’s already dynamic stance.
A "double swage line" -- two character lines running alongside each other – marks the flanks of the new BMW 3-Series, with the higher swage line appearing from the front end and then running over the front wheel with an understated sweep.
The lower swage line comes from behind the front wheel, following an arching path towards the rear end of the BMW 3-Series. This double swage line augments the dynamic wedge shape of the sedan’s flanks, and results in a pleasing interplay of light below it.