BEIJING, April 20 Premium auto maker BMW
unveiled a luxury concept sedan in Beijing on Sunday,
to gauge customer appetite for a car that would cost more than
German manufacturer's current flagship 7 series limousine.
The 5 meter long vehicle, officially called the "Vision
Future Luxury" but also referred to as the 9-series, is aimed at
a growing class of ultra wealthy clients which are coveted by
rival brands such as Bentley.
Ian Robertson, BMW Group's board member responsible for
sales and marketing said the car is being presented the Auto
China show in Beijing as a way to test customer opinion in the
world's largest car market.
"There are a number of elements in that car and we will
gauge what people say and then we will take a view," Robertson
said, declining to comment on whether the vehicle, which
featured carbon fibre, lime wood, and aluminium, will ever go in
Robertson said that there may be a market niche for cars
costing somewhere in the range between 150,000 euros and 300,000
euros and that Chinese clients in particular loved large
Around half of tall the 7-series flagship models made by BMW
end up being sold in China, Robertson said. BMW Group's sales
in China are up 25 percent in the first quarter. For 2014
Robertson said he expects BMW Group to achieve low double digit
The luxury passenger vehicle segment in China grew 20
percent last year, outpacing volume sales growth which rose 14
percent to reach 21.98 million units according to the China
Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
BMW's effort comes as rival Daimler is also
testing appetite for reviving its disbanded high-end Maybach
brand, and as the number of millionaires across the globe
continues to rise.
Since mid-2012, the number of millionaires worldwide has
grown by nearly 2 million, the vast majority of them in the
United States and Asia, Credit Suisse said in its World Wealth
There are 98,700 individuals with assets worth more than $50
million each, and by 2018, global wealth will jump a further 40
percent to reach $334 trillion, the Swiss bank's study shows.
Upon being asked whether there was any truth to the idea
that Daimler may be on the brink of reviving the Maybach brand,
Zetsche smiled and said, "This is speculation. Speculation can
be an inspiration for us."
Earlier this week Reuters reported that Daimler is set to
showcase a Maybach branded S-Class limousine at both the
Guangzhou and the Los Angeles auto shows in November.
The vehicle is set to cost more than double the 165,000-euro
($228,000) asking price of its current flagship, the
Daimler stopped making bespoke Maybach limousines in 2012
after efforts to sell cars based on a unique design and costing
around $380,000 failed to gain traction with clients. Since
mid-2012, the number of millionaires worldwide has grown by
nearly 2 million.
Daimler also saw double digit growth in China year-to-date,
and is preparing to launch a long-wheelbase version of its
C-Class compact sedan as well as announcing the production of a
sporty four-door all-wheel-drive coupe.
The new coupe SUV will come out mid next year and be built
in the company's U.S. plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Zetsche said
(Reporting by Edward Taylor)