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A look at the Row: Valencia BMW

Posted: January 15, 2011 7:59 p.m.
Updated: January 16, 2011 4:30 a.m.

A 2011 740 Li sedan sits on the lot at Valencia BMW on the Valencia Auto Row. U.S. sales increased nearly 17 percent in December compared to vehicles sold in the same month a year ago, according to the U.S. BMW Group, which reported BMW brand sales were up 12 percent overall in 2010.

 

Editor’s note: First in an occasional series on local dealerships and their automotive manufacturers’ unique histories.




Long-known for high-quality sedans, BMW has introduced a number of new vehicles in recent years, from SUVs to sporty coupes. The new 6 Series, coming out in April, features both a coupe and convertible. The newly redesigned SUV X3 models just went on sale.

Locally, 2010 sales at the Valencia BMW increased by 600 units over 2009 sales, according to General Manager Sudhir Sood.

The 3 Series and 5 Series vehicles are the best-selling models at the local dealership, accounting for almost 60 percent of total sales in the last month.

For more than three decades, BMW has sold vehicles under the slogan “ultimate driving machine.” During that period, U.S. sales of the luxury performance vehicles have gone from a reported 15,000-plus units in 1974 to more than 265,757 in 2010.

U.S. sales increased nearly 17 percent in December compared to vehicles sold in the same month a year ago, according to the U.S. BMW Group. It reported BMW brand sales were up 12-percent overall in 2010, signaling the auto manufacturer’s emergence from the grueling recession that depressed the entire automotive industry.

The past year was the second-most successful retail year ever for the U.S. BMW Group, according to remarks made by Ian Robertson, member of the board of management for the collection of American dealerships during a press conference at this week’s International Auto Show in Detroit.

Both the manufacturer and Sood project increased sales in 2011.

“I’m positive about the economy,” Sood said. “(Santa Clarita) offers a lot of benefits, and people haven’t lost as many jobs in Santa Clarita as the county and state.”

Varied history
Bavarian Motor Works was founded in 1916 as an aircraft-engine manufacturer. The circular blue-and-white BMW logo found on its vehicles is said to represent the movement of an aircraft propeller, representing white blades cutting through a blue sky.

A representative at the BMW Museum in Munich said the logo was meant to show the colors of the Free State of Bavaria.

The company began producing motorcycles in 1923, and followed with automobiles in the late ’20s. During World War II, the company concentrated on aircraft production — against the wishes of its director at the time.

In the late ‘40s it resumed motorcycle production, and later automobile manufacturing, in Bavaria.

In 1992, BMW opened its first U.S. premium car-manufacturing plant. It was in South Carolina. The company recently announced it had expanded the plant to increase production by 50 percent for its new BMW X3 vehicles, creating 1,600 new jobs. BMW spent nearly $1 billion to upgrade the plant.

BMW also has a long history of success in Formula One, the sleek open-wheel racing vehicles in the European racing circuit. The engine manufacturer earned the F1 constructors championship in 2006, and  BMW won Le Mans in 1999.

Racing advances made by BMW led to improvements in passenger vehicles, such as the 1 Series coupe and convertible models. That includes the 128i model, which allows smoother air flow over the front wheels to reduce wind resistance.

The experience in designing racing vehicles also allowed the manufacturer to develop safer passenger cars.

Sood showed The Signal photos of a BMW involved in a serious auto accident. The car’s owner e-mailed the photos to Sood, thanking him for the design of the product, which he said  allowed him to walk away from the crash alive.

“One of the reasons BMW is safer is because of the weight distribution,” Sood said. “Most of our vehicles are 50/50, meaning 50 percent of the weight is in the front, and 50 percent is in the back.”

The equal weight distribution allows the car to brake more safely in an emergency, and can mean the difference between life and death in an accident.

Product loyalty
Santa Clarita is a neighborhood-kind of market, Sood said. Customers are loyal, and the dealership, which opened in the ‘90s, has always earned a high-ranking on the manufacturer’s customer-service index, based on surveys of customers after they purchase a car.

“We give owners loaner cars any time a customer brings their car in for service,” Sood said. “If we don’t have a loaner available, we provide them with a rental or drive them to their home or office.”

Most of BMW Valencia’s sales and service staff have worked at the local dealership for a long time, helping many repeat customers.

The manufacturer continues to offer a zero-cost maintenance plan that some luxury manufacturers have dropped over the years. The maintenance plan is for four years or 50,000 miles, Sood said.

Because the dealer sells high-end luxury vehicles with correspinding price tags, it makes a healthy contribution of sales tax revenue to the city’s general fund. The local dealership sold 37-percent more new and used autos in 2010 compared to 2009.

High volume allows BMW Valencia a very competitive edge, Sood said.

“We sell more cars than the closest dealers in Hollywood and Van Nuys,” he said.

He attributes the dealership’s success to customer trust of the product and excellent local service.

“It’s a team effort. The success of this dealership is based on everyone who works here.”

BMW U.S. Group
BMW also owns the Mini Cooper and Rolls Royce lines and is reportedly the largest seller of motorcycles for law enforcement and official use in more than 150 countries.

BMW is firmly planted in the American automotive landscape, board member Ian Robertson told the reporters at the Detroit auto show this week.

A charter member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. BMW Group has been recognized for environmental stewardship and performance.

“We have a great diesel vehicle and a Series 1 electric car coming out later this year,” Sood said.

BMW Valencia is located at 23435 Valencia Blvd. More information can be found at www.valenciabmw.com.

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