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BMW aims to overtake top-seeded Benz with new 5 series

BMW Korea is preparing to launch the seventh generation of its 5-series luxury sedan on Feb. 21, looking to reclaim its throne as the country’s best-selling imported car brand after being bested last year by rival German automaker Mercedes-Benz.

According to BMW Korea, the new 5 series began preliminary sales contracts on Jan. 4; and in less than a month, pre-sale contracts went on to surpass 2,000 units. In comparison, last year the average monthly sales of the previous 5 series averaged around 1,435 units.

In 2016 BMW Korea’s annual sales reached 48,059 units, of which 17,200 units were the 5 series, making it the company’s most representative luxury sedan model.

Exterior view of the BMW’s latest 5-Series, which will be available in Korea starting Feb. 21 (BMW Korea)
Exterior view of the BMW’s latest 5-Series, which will be available in Korea starting Feb. 21 (BMW Korea)

The luxury German automaker has had a strong reign in the domestic imports market over the past few years, ranking No. 1 in sales in 2014 and 2015. However, BMW was dethroned last year and knocked down to second place following record sales by Mercedes-Benz Korea.

The local distributor of the luxury German car brand achieved double-digit annual growth in Korea last year, selling 56,343 units -- a 19.9 percent increase from the previous year, according to the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association.

In an even more impressive feat, last November Mercedes-Benz became the first nondomestic car brand to ever surpass 50,000 annual unit sales, with the company’s E-Class luxury sedan models ranked as the best-seller.

And with the price tag of the BMW’s new 5 series ranging from 66.3 million to 87.9 million won, the car is expected to go head-to-head against the Mercedes E-class, which is being sold at a similar price range.

“While they are good very good models, I think the biggest advantage of BMW’s new 5 series is that the semi-autonomous driving technology is featured as a standard for all the vehicle’s lines,” a BMW official told The Korea Herald. Although optimistic about the 5 series’ potential for success, the official was unable to comment on whether or not BMW Korea has set its sales target looking to surpass 50,000 unit sales this year.  

Along with its semi-autonomous driving technology, the 2017 5 series will also be offered with a technology-savvy smart key. Initially sold exclusively with BMW’s 7 series, the company’s LCD display smart key will be available for the new 5 series. Among its many convenience controls, the BMW smart key features the world’s first Remote Control Parking -- an autonomous parking system that allows one to move the car in and out of a parking space.

By Julie Jackson (juliejackson@heraldcorp.com)
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