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BMW rolls out new 5 series.

Byline: Arno Maierbrugger

Abu Dhabi German carmaker BMW is launching its new 5 series in the UAE this week.

The launch comes at a time when premium car sales seem to be on the upswing again after a slump in the last year, James Crichton, Director Sales and Marketing for BMW Middle East, told Gulf News on the sidelines of the 5 series presentation at the Yas Island race circuit in Abu Dhabi last Sunday.

He said that premium car sales in the Middle East dropped by 27 per cent last year, with BMW falling less at only 8 per cent. This year, BMW sales went up again by 3.7 per cent, he added.

"The 5 series is a core product in BMW's portfolio and one of the top-selling models in the Middle East," Crichton said. "It is set to further strengthen BMW's position in the premium midrange segment here."

The 5 series will enter the Middle East market with one eight-cylinder and three six-cylinder petrol engines.

No diesel engines

There will be no diesel engines available, Crichton said, despite BMW offering a wide range of highly developed turbo diesel engines on most of its markets globally.

"With diesel fuel being significantly more expensive in the UAE and most of the region's markets, we decided not to offer our diesel programme here," Crichton said.

The 5 series is sold in a market range besides direct German competitors Mercedes and Audi.

Since 1994 until the end of February this year, BMW has sold almost 32,000 units of the 5 series in the Middle East, Crichton said.

However, top selling BMW models in the UAE u sold by AGMC in Dubai and the Northern Emirates and by Abu Dhabi Motors in Abu Dhabi u remain the two sports utility vehicles X6 and X5 with 1,295 and 1,284 units respectively, followed by the 7 series, which accounted for 1,254 units last year.

Altogether, those three models made up 68.3 per cent of the total sales in 2009, Leanne Blanckenberg, Corporate Communications Manager, BMW Middle East, told Gulf News.

The 5 series will be introduced with some options completely new to the region, among them a remarkable system called parking assistant, which is configured to detect an empty parking space when driving by and park the car automatically in it. Other useful safety features are the lane departure warning which automatically warns inattentive drivers if the car is about to stray out of its lane, and the night vision system which detects people and animals up to a distance of 300 metres in the night using an infrared camera, to avoid potentially dangerous situations.

"We are sure that these safety features are quite useful, especially on the UAE roads," Crichton said.

Crichton emphasised that due to the implementation of the "efficient dynamic system," a technology designed to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, the 5 series "consumes about one litre per kilometer less than its direct competitors."

In BMW history, about 5.5 million units of five model generations of the 5 series have been sold globally since its introduction in 1972.

The current sixth generation is planned to last for a model cycle of seven years, with occasional facelifts in between, Crichton says.

BMW's other brand, the Mini, experienced a steeper drop in Middle East sales than the premium segment last year, Crichton said.

The entire Mini segment, comprising other smaller cars like the VW Beetle, Volkswagen Golf or Peugeot, slumped 36 per cent.

"For those cars, the Middle East is still a small market," Crichton said.

Regarding Toyota's massive car recalls, Crichton said that he expects that the Japanese carmaker's sales "certainly will be affected, but they will overcome the crisis. Toyota's advantage is that they are very customer-oriented."

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Mar 24, 2010
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