BMW’s big news lately is the brand-spankin new 7 Series. The Bavarians are very excited about it, and for good reason as this is BMW’s latest and greatest flagship car, the car designed to showcase the best of what BMW can do. So naturally, the folks in Munich are excited. However, they may also be a bit afraid of what comes next. See, as good as the new 7 Series may be, and how good all 7 Series’ have been in the past, BMW has almost always fallen to its Stuttgart rival, Mercedes-Benz.
Since the 7 Series inception, BMW has lost to Mercedes, in terms of sales, every single year with the exception of three. According to Wards Auto, 1997, 1998 and 2002 are the only years that Munich has topped Stuttgart in the full-size luxury car market. In fact, most years, BMW has trouble toppling the Lexus LS as well. And, until 1980, the 7 Series never sold more than the Jaguar XJ. Point is, despite how good the 7 Series may be, it has never really been the top seller. So, because of this history, BMW may be proud of its newest 7 Series, but it’s got to be feeling nervous as well.
Regardless of all others though, the S Class is BMW’s biggest target. And this current battle might be BMW’s toughest. The current S Class has been getting nothing short of absolute praise from critics and customers alike. Mercedes also sold 25,276 S Classes in 2014, which is quite a bit more than BMW’s 9,744 7 Series models sold in the same year. Granted, the 7 Series was aging last year, while the big Benz was all-new, but the fact remains that the 7er has always faltered to the S Class.
BMW is trying desperately to take back the sales lead from Mercedes by offering a fresh take on the luxury car. Instead of just trying to coddle its passengers, like Mercedes does with the S Class (albeit very successfully), BMW is aiming to offer class-leading technology and performance. BMW went to great lengths to insure that the 7 Series was above and beyond its competition in terms of high-tech construction and innovative technology. BMW is also betting that people will be drawn to the fact that the new 7 won’t only be wonderful to ride in, but to drive as well.
But proving to people that the 7 Series can handle better than the S Class, or that it has fancier technology, may not be enough. Because the 7 Series has always been the sharper, more driver oriented car of the two. And history has shown that, despite the 7 Series’ superior performance capabilities and technology, customers seem to want the S Class more. Customers are more drawn to the Bentley level of luxury in the S Class, especially this current model’s, rather than the technology and innovation that the 7er has always brought to the table.
Will the 7 Series’ high-tech Carbon Core construction and remote parking capability be enough to sway customers away from the segment-favorite? We won’t know for another year or so. But what we do know is that BMW is betting on itself again, showing that it will make the 7 Series that it wants to make and not just an S Class clone. This new 7 Series is the car that BMW wanted to make and that its fans wanted to drive. If that’s good enough to take down the big Benz then great, but if not, maybe BMW is okay with its place in the sales as long as it gets to make the cars that it wants.