Winnipeg Free Press

Birchwood Group gets very own product genius

by Myron Love  . Feb 17 2017


Tony Pedreira has been a Birchwood Auto Group sales rep for more than 20 years. These days, he has a new designation: product genius.

Predreira is the key piece in a new sales system that Birchwood introduced for its Mini brand in the fall. As he explains it, he is the go-to person for all customers coming in to buy new Mini models. His mandate is to know everything there is to know, to be prepared to answer all questions that customers have about the model lines and to show how Minis can fit into potential customer’s lifestyles.

“For me, it is not about sales anymore,” he says. “I refer customers who want to purchase a vehicle to one of our two sales managers (Stuart Nugent or Nicole Garcia).

“Since we are all on salary rather than commission, there is no pressure here.”

Pedreira thinks that some BMW stores in Canada have also adopted this sales concept, but believes that Birchwood Mini is the first Mini store in the country to have a product genius on the premises.

Pedreira’s previous sales experience has been selling Saturns and, most recently, Toyotas.

“I was surprised at how passionate Mini owners are,” Pedreira says. There are Mini owner clubs everywhere. Anywhere there are two Mini owners, you have a club.”

Predreira’s own first experience with Minis does go back many years.

“My younger brother was a huge Mini fan,” he recalls. “I first learned to drive a manual in a Mini Cooper.”

The Mini has been around for a long time, he notes. “It’s an iconic brand. While the modern Minis still look like the Minis of old, since BMW took over the brand in the late 1990s, there have been a lot of enhancements.”

One of the models — the Mini Cooper Countryman — has been completely redesigned for 2017.

“The 2017 Countryman is bigger, wider and taller than its predecessor,” says Birchwood Mini Winnipeg sales manager Nicole Garcia.

The 2017 entry-level Cooper is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine that turns out 134 horsepower, while the Cooper S has a turbocharged 2-L four-cylinder engine that puts out 189 hp. FWD is standard, but part-time ALL4 AWD is optional on both Cooper and S trims, as is a six- or eight-speed automatic in place of the standard six-speed manual.

Garcia points out that the redesigned compact crossover comes with standard LED lights and back up camera.

Inside, there is generous space both front and rear and the driving position is raised. And everything is digital, Garcia notes.

There are also new colour options, she adds.

A couple of packages add panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, centre armrest in rear, adjustable rear seats and front fog lights (the Essentials Package) plus automatic trunk opening, comfort access, auto dimming mirror, interior electric seats with driver memory, sports seats and automatic climate control (Loaded Package).

The base price for the 2017 Countryman is $26,900 (plus freight and PDI).

“We currently have two models in stock — one Cooper and one Cooper S,” Garcia reports. “We have more on order.

“We will be planning a launch event for the 2017 Countryman some time next month.”

BMW 5 Series Completely Redesigned for 2017

Birchwood BMW sales leader Patrick Hasselmann describes the 5 Series as “the face of BMW” and, for the 2017 model year, the manufacture’s top selling model worldwide has a brand new face and then some.

Hasselmann observes that the 5 Series combines the qualities of the 3 Series sports car and the luxury of the top of the line 7 Series. “The 5 Series is light, fast and efficient,” he says. “It’s the perfect car for everybody.”

The new model debuted at Birchwood BMW just a couple of weeks ago.

The biggest change in the model from last year is that it has a more powerful, more efficient engine, Hasselmann notes. “You can go from zero to 100 km in under 5 seconds,” he reports.

Drivers currently have a choice between a 2-L twin-turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 248 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque or a 3L twin-turbo inline six-cylinder delivering 335hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Both powertrains with xDrive AWD (RWD is standard).

Next month, Hasselmann reports,an even more powerful V8 engine will be available that puts out 456 hp.

In terms of innovation, Hasselmann says, BMW has always been the industry leader, the pioneer, and the 2017 5 Series continues in that tradition. “What BMW introduces today, other manufacturers will introduce tomorrow.

For example, the driver, with special key, can park the car while standing outside the vehicle. “You can also remotely have your car drive itself out from your garage,” he says. “You can also tell from your key fob if the car is locked or unlocked, whether the lights are on or off and if the vehicle needs servicing.”

Hasselmann notes that the redesigned 5 Series features several of the new technological upgrades that BMW first introduced in the 7 Series last year. The new 10.25” iDrive infotainment screen, he says is the newest and best in the industry. The screen is 75 per cent larger than its predecessor.

And there are a while series of new safety features available — such as evasion aid (quite rare still) whereby the vehicle takes automatic evasive manoeuvres in the face of emergency situation — and lane departure and side collision avoidance.

“If you should find yourself about to rear end the car in front, the 5 Series brakes will automatically come to a full stop,” he says.

And the model’s integrated camera angles allow you to see other vehicles coming from any direction when you are backing out of a parking space. You can see your vehicle from the outside from all angles.

Most outstanding of all, Hasselmann notes, is that the 5 Series now has gesture controls (which were first introduced last year in the 7 Series). The Gesture Control system recognizes five different finger gestures for controlling such functions radio tuning and volume, navigation and phone calls.

The base price for the new model, Hasselman says, is $61,500 (plus freight and PDI).

“We have one 530 model and one 540 model in stock,” he says, “but more are on the way.”