BMW Diesel Makes a Super Bowl Comeback – Why?

Posted: February 6, 2011 in BMW, Car Commercials, Super Bowl Commercials
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The BMW 335d sedan has been around for three years now, and it finally has advertising support from BMW – during the 2011 Super Bowl, no less.

2011 BMW 335d Sedan

The 335d is powered by BMW’s outstanding 3.0 liter common-rail diesel engine with twin turbos rated at 265 hp with an intoxicating 425 lb-ft of torque smoking the rear wheels.   It’s BMW’s most powerful and least fuel-efficient six-cylinder diesel engine, but it still manages an EPA rating of 23/36 mpg.  It’s considered a clean diesel because it uses a urea-based exhaust scrubber that makes it a 50-state legal engine, which is no small feat in California.  Diesel-powered vehicles in California must meet the same low emissions standards as their gasoline-powered siblings.

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of diesel power and fuel efficiency.  I have a 1995 Mercedes E300 Diesel that just turned over 100,000 miles (today) and is still solid as a rock, returning average fuel economy in the 30 mpg range.  I would have loved the 335d, however, I choked at BMW’s egregious price.  It starts at $44,150, but by the time you add all the features that should be standard, it’s pushing $60,000. That’s M3 territory or you could move up the food chain to an entry-level 528i sedan, which starts at $45,050 and gets 32 mpg on the highway.

A sighting of the 335d is rare, not just because it looks nearly identical to its 328i and 335i gasoline-powered siblings but because BMW sells so few of them.  Hint to BMW, the diesel premium is so high it will take a decade to pay it back with savings at the fuel pump. It would also help if BMW had a cheap lease deal on the 335d like they have on the 328i and 335i cars. No such luck.

So why the marketing muscle now? At $3 million for 30 seconds, that probably wiped out any profit BMW made on the 335d for the entire time it’s been on the market in the U.S.  As a standard 3-series sedan, it’s hardly aspirational or sensationally sporty.  Go with an M3 or the Z4 sDrive35is or the all-new 6-series to play that game.

Is the 335d some sort of green-tinged halo car? I don’t think so, but no one is buying the X6 ActiveHybrid either.  The Active Hybrid X6 starts at a mind-numbing $88,900 and returns a completely unimpressive 19 mpg highway.

2011 BMW X6 ActiveHybrid

Oh well, even if I can’t figure out the economics or perplexing “why now” for the promotion, I loved the ad and here it is:

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