This same very question was asked on Friday by the folks over at AutoFieldBlog. Jack Pitney, vice president of Marketing at BMW of North America, answered this question:
It is about understanding what a BMW is. “We are a company driven by engineers,” Pitney said. And as such, they are focused on improving their products when they produce a new one or improve an existing one such that there is not necessarily a “hit” in the market—which can sometimes be nothing more than a flash-in-the-pan—but a product that has a gradually building curve that is sustainable. A case of this improvement is the 2011 528i sedan, which with a base price of $45,425 (including $875 destination and handling) is $1,400 less than the 2010 model, despite the fact that there are measurable improvements, such its 3.0-liter inline six producing 240 hp and 230 lb-ft of torque, which are improvements of 10 and 30, respectively. One key way of reducing costs while improving the product: engineering the 7 Series and the 5 Series together such that there is a sharing of approximately 70% of the components.
Pitney said this is “mindset and reality.” Yes, it is a standalone company. And while it has MINI and Rolls-Royce under its umbrella, BMW has a cadre of people who are focused on BMW. He said that the independence gives them “great flexibility to do things, like making the investment in the Spartanburg [South Carolina] plant.” Opened in 1994, the plant was the first non-domestic luxury brand to build a plant in the U.S.
They’re interested in growth, but they’re not, he stated, interested in some sort of market homogeneity: “We don’t want to be for everyone.” Pitney explained that it is about picking their spots within the market, not trying to cover it. “We won’t have a pickup truck,” he joked. Yet they will have electric vehicles, including the forthcoming ActiveE and the MegaCity, with the former coming next year and the latter by “mid-decade.” He insisted of these cars, like any with the roundel on the front, “In the end, they all drive like BMWs.”