BMW, Benz in war of words

BMW and Mercedes-Benz have become embroiled in a war of words amid claims that BMW “recalculated” its US sales figures to boost its June market share.

German manufacturers BMW and Mercedes-Benz have become embroiled in a war of words amid claims that BMW “recalculated” its US sales figures to boost its June market share.

reports that Mercedes has accused BMW of holding back sales in the US until last month in order to have a good record.

The newspaper obtained a confidential report in which Mercedes claims, “It is our belief that, upon receiving competitive market intelligence on June sales, BMW retailed additional units that it held back for this specific purpose”. BMW has denied the allegations, but this could overshadow its announcement this week of its first-half-year sales.

The US Mercedes’ sale team has complained to Joachim Schmidt, DaimlerChrysler’s board member for sales and marketing. “This is clear evidence that BMW has managed its closing numbers in response to the competitive environment,” the sales team said of the different sales figures.

BMW says there is a simple explanation for the changed figures. “It was due to the retailing of demonstration cars and tax-free imports that were not in the preliminary figures. This is a normal reconciliation by us. Mercedes knows it, and this smacks of dirty tricks,” said one BMW official.

The dispute is a breach of the normal practice among German manufacturers not to criticise each other’s retail figures.

Nevertheless, Mercedes is also claiming that BMW is offering its dealers incentives of up to $8 000 (R80 000) on certain models of the new 7-Series. According to the newspaper, BMW sent letters to its US dealers stating that “direct support” of $8 000 would be available for some 7-Series vehicles.

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