BMW to push pre-order process with new X3

American car shoppers tend to be impulse buyers, but BMW is looking to change the typical buying process with the launch of its all-new X3 SUV. The new X3 will first hit the European market in November, followed by a U.S. roll out in early 2011.

With the launch of the new X3, BMW will encourage buyers to order the specific configurations they want, rather than choosing from dealer stock. The built-to-order process would greatly reduce BMW's costs, but - given U.S. buyers' propensity to impulse buy -- could prove troublesome to implement.

"Ordering has not been part of the car buying process" in the U.S., Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive officer of Edmunds, told Bloomberg. "Consumers are used to going into a dealership and driving away with a car. We tend to be very impulsive."

In fact, only about 2 percent of Lexus' U.S. sales typically are pre-ordered, versus BMW's 50 percent pre-ordered rate in Germany.

BMW is pushing the built-to-order process in order to cut costs. Building vehicles to fill dealer stock can be an expensive endeavor, especially if incentives are needed to move some vehicle combos.

The order process isn't as lengthy as some consumers might think, with an order to delivery time of just about 2 weeks. BMW will be able to provide such quick turnaround times thanks to the X3's production shift to the United States.

1. 'BMW Hopes ...' view