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商业 - 汽车

宝马:震撼现在,放眼未来

Alex Taylor III 2011年11月29日

今年第三季度,宝马在中国的销量跃升了21%,尽管中国经济正在降温,但宝马仍有信心在中国保持强劲的增长势头。

宝马i3是一款纯电池动力车,使用了碳纤维车身和铝合金框架,重量比一般的宝马3系轻了20%。

    虽然经济环境依旧艰难,但美国进口豪车市场的销量却有增无减。其中有一家汽车厂商尤为突出,不仅仅是由于它眼下的表现十分抢眼,同时也是因为它对未来战略的开发。这家公司就是宝马集团(BMW)。宝马并没有沉浸在往昔和当下的辉煌里,而是正在紧锣密鼓地投资新的结构技术,不断向后汽油时代世界的纵深挺进。

    首先看看眼下。年关将至,又到了车型更新换代的时候。宝马的两款畅销车型——宝马3系和宝马1系的产量都有所下降,但2011年前10个月,宝马品牌在美国的销量还是上涨了13%,达到了199,552辆。在豪车销量排行榜上,宝马和第一名梅塞德斯奔驰(Mercedes-Benz)的差距已经越来越小。

    宝马的Mini品牌表现得也不错。自从推出Mini Countryman微型SUV以来,Mini今年的销量已经从38,538台上涨到了47,050台。唯一拖了后腿的是劳斯莱斯,这个品牌的销量增幅只处在较低的两位数上。即便如此,跟已经一跃成为世界第一大汽车市场的中国相比,宝马在美国的表现还是相形见绌。今年第三季度,宝马在中国的销量跃升了21%,尽管中国经济正在降温,但宝马仍有信心在中国保持强劲的增长势头。

    强劲的销量也给宝马的财务业绩注入了强大的活力。今年前三季度,宝马的税前收入比去年同期猛增44%,税前利润上升21%,汽车业务的营业利润达11.9%,不仅令奔驰黯然失色,也让一名分析师惊呼,宝马确实“在执行上战胜了”奔驰这个老对手。宝马董事长诺伯特•雷瑟夫的喜悦之情自然溢于言表,他说:“今年我们创造了公司历史上销量最好的第三季度。在这段时间里,我们的销量、收入和收益都创造了新记录。”

    分析人士的意见几乎也是一致的:宝马是世界上管理最好、财务状况最好的汽车厂商之一,有着伟大的品牌。宝马还会继续从车型的改进、成本重组以及中国的经济增长中获益。

    与此同时,宝马还在积极削减开发成本和生产成本。分析人士指出,宝马1系和3系的零部件成本将分别节省7%和9%。宝马按固定价格采购了许多零部件,用于新车型终身使用。此外,宝马的汽车测试成本也降低了30%。

    虽然眼下宝马的表现已然十分惊人,但它的好日子还在前头。定价最低的宝马1系今年9月在法兰克福车展发布,现在已经开始在全欧洲铺货。宝马3系是宝马的主打车型,它的销量超过了宝马美国市场销量的半数,如今新的宝马3系也将在2012年到店开售。早期的评测虽然不能让人完全信服,不过宝马的工程师们还是完成了一个惊人的壮举:新宝马3系的尺寸比老款更大,但重量却轻了90磅。 

    Amid this difficult economic environment, sales of import luxury cars in the U.S. have actually improved. One manufacturer in particular stands out -- not just for its performance today but also for its development of future strategies. That company is BMW Group. Instead of merely indulging in its prosperity, it is investing in new structural technologies and venturing ever further into the post-oil world.

    First, a look the present. BMW brand sales in the U.S. for the first ten months of 2011 were up 13%, even though production of its two best-selling models, the 3-series and 1-series, is winding down in anticipation of model changeovers. With unit sales of 199,552, BMW is closing in on Mercedes-Benz for luxury car sales leadership.

    BMW's Mini brand isn't doing badly either. With the addition of the Countryman SUV, its sales have climbed this year to 47,050 from 38,538. The only group laggard is Rolls-Royce, which is selling in the low double digits. BMW's performance in the U.S. paled in comparison to China, now the world's largest car market. Sales there jumped 21% in the third quarter, and BMW is confident it can maintain the momentum even as the Chinese economy cools.

    These robust sales have supercharged financial results. BMW's third-quarter earnings before interest and taxes rose by 44% year over year, while profit before tax went up 21%. The operating profit on autos was 11.9%, dwarfing Mercedes and causing one analyst to crow that BMW was simply "out-executing" its longtime competitor. An understandably ebullient chairman Norbert Reithofer said "We have recorded the best third quarter in the company's history. During this period, we achieved new records for sales volume, revenues, and earnings."

    The opinion of analysts is almost unanimous: BMW remains one of the best-managed and best- positioned OEMs globally, with a great brand. It should continue to benefit from an improving model range, cost-restructuring, and growth in China.

    BMW is also making an aggressive effort to reduce development and piece costs. Analysts say it will save 7% to 9% on parts costs for both the 1 and the 3. Many parts and components have been purchased at fixed prices for the lifetime of the new model. BMW has also lowered vehicle-testing costs by 30%.

    With this remarkable performance in hand, BMW's best days lie ahead of it. The new 1-Series, its lowest-priced line, was unveiled at the Frankfurt show in September and is now being rolled out across Europe. The new 3-series, the model line that accounts for more than half of BMW's U.S. sales, will reach dealers in 2012. Early reviews are inconclusive, but its engineers have achieved the remarkable feat of making the 3 larger while still reducing its weight by 90 pounds.

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