BMW expects to keep luxury lead in 2012

Luxury car brand Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) is looking forward to keeping its post as this year’s best-selling luxury brand in the U.S. up to next year’s first quarter as it introduces its redesigned 3-Series sedan.

Ludwig Willisch, who took over BMW’s North American operations Oct. 1, is confident that the company will remain number one.  ”Our model lineup is broad. We have a lot of opportunities to get there,” he said.

The BMW brand and Mercedes have been fighting to take the luxury sales crown away from Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus, which has been the annual leader for 11 years. BMW ended September in the lead with 177,679 sales while Mercedes is in second place with 170,058. Those results exclude Daimler’s Sprinter vans and Smart cars and BMW’s Mini brand, which aren’t luxury vehicles.

Willisch’s remarks run counter to his predecessor, Jim O’Donnell, who said in August that BMW will probably be outsold by Mercedes-Benz next year before the redesigned 3-Series hits U.S. dealerships.

Updated Mercedes C-Class models went on sale last quarter while BMW is still selling older 3-Series compacts. The 3-Series is slated to hit U.S. showrooms in March or April, BMW says.

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