Is BMW playing catch-up to Mercedes-Benz?

Interesting | March 22nd, 2016 by 16
2016 Mercedes Benz E Class images detroit 110 750x500

Mercedes-Benz is currently on a roll, pumping out one successful new model after another and slowly increasing both its model portfolio and its profits. There’s …

Mercedes-Benz is currently on a roll, pumping out one successful new model after another and slowly increasing both its model portfolio and its profits. There’s no doubt that Mercedes-Benz is currently on the rise and probably more so than any other German automaker at the moment. So is BMW playing catch-up with its main rival from Stuttgart?

Well, yes and no. But the answer is that cut and dried.

Bild Vergleich BMW 5er F10 LCI Mercedes E Klasse W213 Limousine 2016 02 750x562

For the past decade or so, BMW has been the German automaker to beat, outselling its rivals and having the largest and most extensive model portfolio with the most impressive technology. BMW has been filling niches and cashing checks for the past few years, leaving its competitors in the dust. But not to be outdone, Mercedes worked very hard at playing catch-up and expanded its own model lineup as well as increasing technology and performance to levels that either matched or surpassed BMW. So now that Mercedes-Benz is on the rise, while BMW seems to be flatlining, it seems as if it’s BMW’s turn to play catch-up.

BMW recently held a “Strategy Day”, in which CEO Harald Krueger spoke about the Bavarian brand’s plans for the upcoming years and how it’s going to hold on to its number one premium luxury automaker crown. However, Krueger’s plans seem to have underwhelmed the press, with them claiming that what Krueger and BMW are planning is too little too late and just mimics what Mercedes has recently done. For instance, BMW would like to save money with a cost-cutting initiative called ‘Simplify’, which will see the brand reduce any unnecessary cost of manufacturing to keep profits high. It also wants to reuse manufacturing techniques on new models, so as to save the cost of new tooling and machines. These programs are basically mirrored off of what Mercedes publicly announced a few years back. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing and it’s not as if only one company is capable of coming up with the idea of cost-cutting. “You’re right, maybe you hear the same things from the competition. I would expect that,” said BMW finance chief Friedrich Eichiner. “At the end of the day, the question is who is able to really implement, and it always was in our industry.”

Plus, these sorts of things are cyclical, as is the entire auto industry. For decades, these two German Giants have gone back and forth with each other, with each one being the king of the segment for different periods of time. One automaker trumps the other and the vice versa, and on and on it goes. For instance, a few years ago BMW debuted the X1 crossover, a niche vehicle Mercedes-Benz didn’t have a competitor for. So what did Mercedes do? Well, it publicly announced its displeasure of not having a direct competitor so it went out and made one, in the Mercedes-Benz GLA Class.

Bild Vergleich BMW X6 F16 Mercedes GLE Coupe SUV 2014 04 750x562

No one is claiming Mercedes-Benz to be a copy-cat, despite the fact that the GLA was an answer to the X1, the GLE Coupe is frighteningly similar to the BMW X6 in nearly every single measurable way and the upcoming GLC Coupe is being developed to compete directly with the BMW X4. Mercedes-Benz is on the rise and selling cars like crazy while also expanding its lineup, but its expanded lineup is a near carbon-copy of BMW’s.  Could you call that Mercedes simply playing catch-up? If you want, but it’s more likely just the way of the auto industry. One company makes something new, so the other says “Hey, let’s make something that can beat that.” It’s not an uncommon practice.

What else was it supposed to do? That’s just how the auto industry works. No company can stay in the lead forever, as competition grows and grows until a new king takes over and back and forth it goes. It’s a very cyclical thing, the auto industry.

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So is BMW playing catch-up to Mercedes-Benz? Sure, I guess. But that isn’t an insult to BMW, but a sign that it’s competition got very, very good. This is a common theme in any industry. Take the tech industry for example, with Apple copying ideas from Samsung and vice versa. That’s just what competing companies do, as it’s always happened and will always happen. So maybe BMW is playing catch-up and maybe it is implementing vaguely similar, but extremely common, strategies to Mercedes’, but that’s just the nature of the auto industry. BMW has a plan to get itself back on top yet again and we have no doubt that it will because history tells us so. And after BMW does, years down the line Mercedes-Benz will do the same it on and on it will go.

16 responses to “Is BMW playing catch-up to Mercedes-Benz?”

  1. Adrian says:

    “apple copying samsung” – good one :))

  2. TheBingoBalls says:

    Not really sure how I feel about this article because in ways, it doesn’t make any sense. You pretty much have two scenarios: product life cycles and new models but don’t really explain them respects to BMW and Mercedes.

    The entire auto industry cat/mouse, copy cat game. But with respects to Mercedes, they’ve been the ones chasing or “catching up” to BMW with the crossovers (GLE Coupe, GLA). There’s no discussion about that. BMW on the other hand, they’re just caught in the mid to end cycle of most of their vehicles. Consider the fact that Mercedes are just pumping out new models and launching next-generation of their cars, it appears like BMW has fallen behind which in fact isn’t necessarily true. They may be lagging in sales but a contributor of that is again aging product cycles. BMW doesn’t need to launch any new vehicles, in fact, Mercedes has finally caught up with their product mix. We just need to wait for the GXX BMW’s to launch.

  3. seancorr says:

    Their bread and butter models which are the 3er and 5er has to excel and lately the competition is getting very fierce. No longer can BMW hold on to the driving dynamics crown like how it used to nor can it skimp on using cheap interior materials. The W205 has a fantastic interior and the all new XE drives like a BMW and then there is the all new A4 which is a technological tour de force. Let’s not forget that the all new S60 is on the way too and Volvo is on the rise…..so yeah so much competition!

    • Curtnik says:

      Let’s not forget Cadillac, who landed comparisons with the 3-Series and C Class on their first try. After the technology they put into the CT6, no telling what the ATS replacement has up its sleeve.

  4. alex says:

    what’s this post about? Earth circled its orbit, round after round?

  5. Icebreakerr says:

    this post was the most stupidest post ever made on this website

  6. Kaisuke971 says:

    Can’t wait for Mercedes to “play Catch-up” in 5 years then.

  7. curamrda says:

    sorry… Merc is far faaar away from BMW with design… F30 is just boxy E9x. and other models are not evolution..just minor changes from previous :/

  8. Chris says:

    What about 2 series active tourer copying B class from Mercedes? A small sport premium mpv fwd?

    • Kaisuke971 says:

      B is not Sport (at all) and Renault invented the MPV, not Mercedes. While Mercedes invented the luxury/premium MPV we can say BMW invented the luxury sport MPV x)

      • Chris says:

        Come on man.. Did you tested the cars? The B class is sport as the 2 series active tourer is. This tells you a guy who works for bmw

        • Kaisuke971 says:

          I only tested the B Class and it was bad, no one would want to drive that imo. I assume the 2 is more sporty because that’s what almost every review says and it’s based on the Mini

          • Michael says:

            Well the B Class is not a true proper Mercedes anyway. A Class, B Class, CLA and GLA are rubbish not a true Mercedes only profit making products. The C Class and above is the way to go. The best is E Class, S Class, CLS, SL, SLK, G Wagon, SLS and CL now replaced by the new S Class coupe. ML is okay but I wouldn’t buy American built only German Bremen or Sindelfingen.

      • Michael says:

        Just the same, as the active tourer and X1 are rubbish. Not proper BMWs. 3 Series and above is a proper true BMW. Stay clear of South African built. I don’t know about the 1 series either.

  9. HYYPE BERLIN says:

    GLE looks soooo much better than X6!

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