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BMW is working with its dealer network to help get U.S. customers to pre-order vehicles. The concept of pre-ordering has all but vanished from the U.S. auto market, although its not clear if that is due to impulsive consumers or because of dealerships that would rather sell what's on the lot. This is in stark contrast to Germany where half of all BMWs are pre-ordered.

The reason BMW wants to promote pre-ordering is ultimately economic. Pre-ordered cars specifically customized by owners often don't get discounted as customers feel they are getting exactly what they want. With lots packed full of dealer-ordered cars, BMW has given heavy incentives this year, averaging $4,544 per vehicle so far this year. That's higher than $3,398 for Mercedes and well above Lexus at just $1,460. Pre-ordering is also a great way for dealers to offer expensive, exclusive options. Audi has been pushing its "Exclusive" program with custom options and has had success, boating pre-orders as high was 14 percent, compared to just 5.4 percent last year.

Starting with the new X3, BMW will help promote pre-ordering by contacting prospective customers now. Dealers will also reach out to BMW lessees to see if they can order a car ahead of time for when the lease model is returned.

In addition to pre-ordering, BMW is also looking to boost sales in general after suffering a 20 percent slump last year – with sales in Germany outpacing those in the U.S. The German automaker hopes to surpass Lexus as the number one luxury brand in the U.S. by 2012.

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