BMW perdió ante Mercedes Benz la corona de la mayor marca de autos de lujo del mundo, finalizando su reinado de más de una década en medio de una cartera abarrotada de modelos que envejecen.

El año pasado, la automotriz con sede en Múnich vendió 80 mil autos menos que la marca de Daimler, que atrajo a los compradores jóvenes con rediseños deportivos y una colección más amplia de SUV cada vez más populares.

A Mercedes Benz GLA 250 sport utility vehicle (SUV) sits on stage following the vehicle's debut at an event ahead of the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. Mercedes-Benz deliveries climbed 11.3% in 2016 to 2,080,000, according to Daimler AG Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

(Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

BMW verá dificultada su recuperación por desafíos que van desde la desaceleración de la demanda en Europa hasta la amenaza de barreras comerciales en el Reino Unido y América del Norte.

Las entregas mundiales de BMW aumentaron 5.2 por ciento, a 2 millones de autos, en 2016, menos de la mitad del crecimiento del 11.3 por ciento de las entregas de Mercedes, que ascendieron a 2.08 millones.

Audi, que se ubicó en tercer lugar, vendió 1.87 millones de autos en 2016, un 3.8 por ciento más que un año antes.

An Audi AG SQ5 vehicle sits on display after being unveiled during the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 9, 2017. Last January, the 2016 NAIAS featured 61 vehicle introductions, a majority of which were worldwide debuts, and was attended by over 5,000 journalists from 60 countries. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Mercedes estuvo detrás de BMW desde 2005 y por un tiempo cayó al tercer puesto, por debajo de Audi, antes de que una línea renovada de vehículos utilitarios deportivos generara una fuerte recuperación en los últimos años.

Las ventas crecerán en niveles bajos, de un solo dígito, en 2017, dijo el director de ventas de BMW, Ian Robertson, en el salón del automóvil de Detroit el lunes. Los vientos en contra a los que estará expuesta este año incluyen un debilitamiento de la demanda en el Reino Unido en medio de los preparativos para el Brexit y una desaceleración del crecimiento en China, señaló.

Si bien el máximo ejecutivo de BMW, Harald Krüger, dice que está más atento a la rentabilidad que a las ventas, necesita fondos para cubrir las crecientes inversiones en autos eléctricos y funciones de autoconducción.

Los tres fabricantes alemanes de autos de lujo se enfrentan a ese reto, además de la creciente competencia de la expansión de rivales más chicos como Jaguar, Volvo y Alfa Romeo y de recién llegados como Tesla.

BMW es especialmente vulnerable porque no tiene las arcas bien provistas de una gran empresa controlante en la cual apoyarse. El aumento del gasto en investigación y desarrollo ha hecho caer la rentabilidad de BMW. También pesa en sus utilidades la renovación en marcha de su línea de productos.

“El desafío –y la oportunidad- en 2017 es que BMW entregue la nueva cartera de productos que está lanzando de manera dinámica en los próximos dos o tres años y luego convierta ese lanzamiento en un crecimiento de las utilidades, ya que necesita invertir en nuevas tecnologías”, dijo Stuart Pearson, analista de Exane BNP Paribas en Londres. “El mercado está competitivo en un momento en que el crecimiento del mercado final viene frenándose”.

Las automotrices mundiales se enfrentan a enormes costos para desarrollar vehículos a batería y poder cumplir con el endurecimiento de las normas de emisiones, aun cuando los consumidores no estén comprando suficientes autos eléctricos como para que la inversión valga la pena.

A BMW i3 electric automobile, produced by Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, sits on display during the first press day of the Paris Motor Show at Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France, on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. Ford Motor Co. and Rolls-Royce are among the companies skipping the car show, also known as Mondial de L'Automobile, as the once-unmissable event succumbs to changes sweeping the auto industry. Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

(Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg)

BMW, que adoptó tempranamente la tecnología verde, se ha demorado en sumar productos eléctricos nuevos después de las tibias ventas de su auto urbano i3.

Los cambios políticos en mercados clave probablemente se sumen a los obstáculos que enfrenta BMW. La compañía se vería fuertemente afectada por un impuesto aduanero a las automotrices que Donald Trump ha insinuado que podría aplicar y por cualquier nuevo arancel que se fijara como resultado de la salida del Reino Unido de la Unión Europea, debido a sus fuertes inversiones en México y el Reino Unido.

Bloomberg

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