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Internet no threat to dealers says BMW

BMW dealers are being urged to view the internet as an additional selling opportunity amid reassurances that it does not pose a threat to their 'bricks and mortar' businesses.

Helmet Panke, BMW AG chief financial officer, claimed the company had no intention of dealing direct with customers, despite setting up an online ordering system three years ago which enabled buyers to specify vehicle colour and equipment. Dealers remain responsible for the transaction, he said.

"Look at the US where 75% of purchases are made after visiting an automaker's website," said Mr Panke.

"Armed with the knowledge they have gained from that website, customers go to a dealer. The internet is not a threat to dealers but a further selling opportunity."

Mr Panke insists the dealer is the entrepreneur and is responsible for setting the price of the car. "He is the businessman. Our strategy is that the sales pitch remains with the dealer."

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