Earlier this week, Automotive News, reported that BMW plans to bring a small new front-wheel-drive family of cars in the United States. According to the magazine, BMW is convinced luxury buyers are ready embrace vehicles positioned below the 1 Series Coupe sold currently in the US.
European media reports say BMW is planning at least three variants.
The report also mentioned that the new class is being called UKL, an abbreviation for lower compact class cars sold in Germany. Ian Roberton, head of sales and marketing at BMW, said that the new class “will be a relatively big segment because we have several body styles”. Without disclosing the bodystyles, Robertson confirmed that the US-bound vehicles will be powered by a four-cylinder engine. The new BMW family of small cars is expected to be launched before 2013.
Shortly after, a new report mentions that Mercedes-Benz also plans to ship three-compact front-wheel drive vehicles to the U.S. begining in 2012.
CNET reports that either a compact SUV or a coupe derived from the B-class platform will go on sale first. Neither will wear a B-class badge.
Joachim Schmidt, executive vice president for sales at Mercedes, said the company will also add later a compact van featuring its electric drivetrains. Mercedes is considering a fuel cell model or an electric with a range-extending gasoline engine.
With the two major premium automakers announcing their plans for the entry-level premium market, it is expected that further announcements from other automakers will follow. We expect this new class of vehicles to be priced in the mid-2os range, with alternative drivetrains priced slightly higher.