Insider reveals new details around BMW’s future front-wheel drive vehicles

Rumors | January 5th, 2011 by 49
BMW Concepts 71210101230235411600x10601

One of the most heated topics in the BMW world is the future family of front-wheel drive vehicles that is set to launch within the …

One of the most heated topics in the BMW world is the future family of front-wheel drive vehicles that is set to launch within the next three years. The subject has been highly debated all over the interwebs and several rumors appeared over the course of 2010.

Today, a new round of details, or if you want rumors, appear on the web, courtesy of the usual BMW insider Scott27. While some of the information related below coincide with some things we have learned through different channels, there are still plenty of details that we cannot confirm at the moment, nor our sources will talk about it. As always, take the information below with a grain of salt until something more official is being released.

Language has been slightly edited.

BMW Concepts 71210101230235411600x10601“When Norbert Reithofer, BMW’s chairman of the Board, announced that 80% of BMW owners thought that their BMW 1 Series was front wheel drive, many were astounded at that statement when it was mentioned regarding BMW’s shock-announcement of its intentions to build a front-wheel drive vehicle. As many others, the world believed that the concept of front-wheel drive in a BMW is not only sacrilegious and a blasphemy, but something that BMW had fought to distinguish their cars from their competitors.

The latest winter photographs and videos of people across the world trying to get mobile by either equipping their front wheels with snowchains or trying to clear a path for the front wheels, became somewhat hilarious and with expected consequences. Norbert Reithofer was therefore justified in his statement.

Looking at BMW Differently…

BMW are not just going front-wheel drive to further improve their emissions targets, but also to provide a profitable strategy by developing a new platform structure, modular in form to accommodate both MINI and BMW.

First of all, contrary to media reports and enthusiasts of the BMW brand, front-wheel drive is part of a strategy to help the next generation MINI and its future variants to become more profitable and more cost effective for BMW to produce.

Initial strategies in the beginning had led to talks with PSA, Fiat and of course Daimler, where the beginnings of a proposed MINI and Smart sharing programme disintegrated when BMW decided to go alone.

No Reasons to Panic

When I say a front-wheel drive BMW the panic sets in and goes against BMW’s core marketing message: Image, Dynamics and Rear Wheel Drive. Some journalists have pointed out that the new 1er is a front-wheel drive and so is the 3er…

The new BMW 1er which will be seen in a few months time remains rear-wheel drive. The new BMW 3er which will debut in November also remains rear-wheel drive.

However, what the front-wheel drive BMW consists of is a range of small concepts designed to appeal to a growing demographic in the demand for more compact premium concepts.

A New World of Difference: The Concepts.

BMW Compact
BMW Compactive Sport Gran Tourer
BMW F.amily A.ctivity S.ports T.ourer

First we will see the new BMW Compact. BMW’s interpretation of a front-wheel drive city car or a MINI. You will have typical BMW design elements but reinterpreted to give a new impression of a totally different idea of a BMW. In order for the concept to appeal, it has to be eye-catching and stand out amongst i’s competitors.

A Sexy Kind of Blasphemy.

The overall shape of the car differs completely from the typical MINI or conventional 3dr hatch format, the closest intention on the market today is possibly the Honda CR-Z, but not directly. In order to really sell home the concept, BMW wants the car to really strike out not just from the MINI but also its competition.

The designers have gone for an edgier three-dimensional appearance. It forgets the use of lines to enhance wheelarches and now becomes more three-dimension as it is now stamped so you can see the widening of the rear quarter.

One idea intended here was to signify the new direction for BMW. The design is expanded and the cues mentioned previously are accompanied by an enclosed normal glasshouse that is pushed inwards allowing the metal around the rear to enclose the glasshouse allowing a line that curves around the rear window forming the typical BMW kink impression in metal instead of the glass that swipes strikingly through the doors to the front wing.

The A-pillars follow the direction shown with the Vision Efficient Dynamics concept and continue down into the front wing leaving a typical BMW wheel at each corner look; triangular shaped lights sit upon each corner of the rear. The roof is towards the rear a typical BMW sloping roof.

With the typical BMW double round headlights placed one slightly below the other one, the idea is the inclusion of indicator signals directly underneath the angel eyes. The front of the car gets a smaller twin kidney grille, again more three-dimensional as the front of the car allows the grille to be pushed further back.

The stand-out stylish design has been chosen to really signify the new direction, a regular typical hatch would not be a major selling point to deliver the concept.

The BMW Compactive Gran Sport Tourer fulfills the need for a segment BMW have not yet targeted, mainly the multi-purpose vehicle segment which is expected to see sales rises to 45% per year. BMW plans a two prong attack, but will not offer a typical MPV concept in which some look like vans with additional windows.
What BMW intends to offer is a raised five-door hatch-tourer concept with a raised driving position, stretched wheelbase with room for five made possible by positioning the engine transversely and removing the transmission tunnel. It will not be a five-door variant of the compact. It will inherit a very unique design.

The BMW F.amily A.ctivity S.port T.ourer is seen as a more sporty orientated synergy between a Touring MPV and an X model. Again it will be uniquely designed and sporty looking.

Like the Mega City Vehicle, the car will feature rear-hinged doors for access to the cabin. The concept has proved successful in presentations, so BMW have commenced work on a 3er F.A.S.T. But will be a rear-wheel drive.

Can the BMW Compact and MINI co-exist ?

The key to this is a brand new compact platform shared with the MINI that if the first outcome is successful then BMW might consider a further range of models to support it’s new segment.
This new Platform which has been engineered to support the MINI and BMW 1001 Compact will be used within each Brands variants. MINI of course will be the first to expand and after an establishment period has indicated that BMW’s concept was a success then BMW’s design teams have on the table a range of additional concepts for the expansion. Another key to the cost effectiveness of the car is that engines will also be shared as well manual,automatic and electric drivetrains. Engines will also be shared ranging from three and Four cylinders in both petrol and diesel format.

In distinguishing both cars visually another key factor for BMW is the driving characteristics and how the engineers will go to lengths to make sure that both MINI and the BMW Compact offer an individual driving experience that distinguishes both cars.
The MINI of course will retain it’s typical MINI Go-Kart trademark handling whilst BMW will be looking for a more dynamic approach , both levels of dynamics for both cars are attainable.

Why the need for a Premium Front wheel drive Concept from BMW?

The recent recession taught us that customers are willing to downsize to other segments if there vehicles offer the same luxuries and features as traditional luxury concepts. The prime example being MINI where in some markets for MINI sales were actually rising it was only to further examination that a higher majority of these cars were being built with nearly every option available maximizing profits for MINI and showing that customers were willing to move to more efficient vehicles but with the same level of comforts and luxuries.

The online enthusiast board reaction has been to overwhelm the negatives of the BMW philosophy but some overlook one very important ideal – BMW already do Front Wheel Drive and do it well , a car that has seen off new impressive competition such as the Fiat 500 and Audi A1 when it comes to make a Front Wheel drive car that handles, has a great image and offers the customer a perfect choice of flexibility. It is called the MINI.”

[Source: Germancarforum ]

49 responses to “Insider reveals new details around BMW’s future front-wheel drive vehicles”

  1. Vaybach Khan says:

    bmw compact is mega city and others two are 1gt and 3gt?or its mvp by bmw and gt to come?thats a LOT range of models….i just hope they make sense with naming the models right cos im already lost :)

  2. dmlgc says:

    If they built the car pictured here with rear wheel drive , my wife would buy it tomorrow.

  3. X5SoB says:

    Purists are sticks in the mud. As long as the front drive models are differentiated in naming convention, I don’t see a problem. Maybe that’s why BMW copyrighted the “e” series, as in E1, E2, etc., for economical, I suppose. Anything that makes BMW more solvent is a good thing, as long as core product is not forgotten, which it won’t be. Or BMW could appease the purists, and go under, at which point no BMWs would be produced, or become a Chinese subsidiary, which would promptly go to all front wheel drive. Imagine the negative commentary then.

    • bob says:

      Um, do you think there’s anyone who believes that the “E” would stand for anything other than “electric”?!

      Tho, “economical” would be kinda funny, I suppose…

      • Woo Hoo says:

        “economical” and BMW???

        Who would buy an “economical” BMW? I suppose that low budget shoppers would consider it given the Badge recognition. But I’d just smirk at them as I roll by in an X6, thinking, “oh how cute, they can afford a pseudo bimmer too”.

        Now the 1er owners won’t be the butt of all jokes anymore.

        • wazon8 says:

          Economical Issetta saved BMW in past. It was really cheap to buy and even cheaper to maintain. Needless to say that people bought it.

          • BIMMER1 says:

            You do realize they made the Isetta because most of the German controlled contries from WWII were still in shambles and most people were very hard off financially at that time. It was really all that some people could afford.

          • wazon8 says:

            In 1955 Gemany hadn’t been controlled by any coutry. They have formed first independent goverment in 1949. In 1948 Germans got back economical level that they had before WWII. They’ve got average earnings increase by 13% in 1948, by 10% in 1950 and by 6,2% in 1955. So, there was no economical crisis and the quality of life increased. Moreover, Great Britain, U.S. and West-European coutries wanted to rebuild German economy as fast as possible, because after WWII they knew how much one can achieve by playing on resentment of German citizens. After WWI there were huge financial punishment imposed on German citizens and they got frustrated up to the point they started to support Hitler. Everybody wanted to avoid repeating of such scenerio.

            Of course, they are always people who cannot afford ordinar car such as VW Kafer (at that time) and surely Issetta was addressed to them. But the reason was to motorize German society and earn some means that allowed BMW to survive and even make developement. BMW used this great opportunity very well. But it’s still worth to remember that introducing of Issetta didn’t have much in common with WWII: in 1957 in Italy Fiat 500 appeared and had the same task as Issetta – to motorize society for as small amount of money as possible, similar role was played by Citroen 2CV in France. Both of mentioned cars have been affordable for greater part of society than was any other car earlier.

            Taking into cosideration the fact that German GDP was down about 5% and similar story goes for each European country (from 1 to 5% down) except Poland, right now we have times where there is a need for a small car for ex 1-er and 3-er customers. Each European premium car maker is aware of it. I don’t know what kind of profits MCV will provide, but I bet that it’s well motivated decision to introduce it. It can be the case that number of people who need cheaper premium car significantly increased. And yes, smaller, cheaper car with small engine, relatively cheap to maintain is something that is economical. Who does need it? All those people who lost badly on financial crisis.

          • S85power says:

            Germans were still on food rations in 1955. Germany was destroyed and suffered economically until the late 1960s. Germany was in a economical crissis before WWII, this is what lead to Hitler coming to power, so suggesting Germany was doing great because it was back to the same economy prior to the war, wells its beyond ignorant….they suffered from WWI and through to the late 60s and its reflected in the cars they produced, the 70s was the rise of german automakers!

          • S85power says:

            Lets also not forget Germany was split into East and West, one side being American and the other Soviet.

  4. Hugo Becker says:

    The 1er is similarly sized to the Honda Civic, the FWD BMW will be a size below the 1er (Yaris, Fit, Mazda2). The notion is that you can provide the engineering expertise and interior trim to catch Gen Y and Gen Z’s who are platform neutral.

    Are all FWD vehicles crap? Yeah, pretty much so. No really that’s not quite true, the original Mini Cooper was a true driver’s car. The ’91 Nissan Sentra SE-R was no slouch either. And then there’s the current Mini which many a true ‘car guy’ owns. There have been some truly awful FWD cars and some truly awful RWD cars (anyone driven a Gremlin?), and don’t get me started on the Fiero (and duck in 1, 2, 3, . . . ;-)

    The L7 platform matrix that the F30 and F20 share allows for a flexible firewall location. So they can further shrink the wheelbase and yet still retain passenger space by going to FWD. FWIW there’s a four inch difference in wheelbase between the current 1er and 3er – the Civic’s wheelbase is within an inch of the 1er – the Fit rides on a 98.5 inch wheelbase – expect something within 2 inches of 100 inches for the new FWD BMW’s.

    But don’t expect BMW to build a FWD sedan to compete with the Buick Regal and Volvo S60. ;-)

  5. Efoza says:

    This wonderful 5 GT inspired design will signal the end of French car sales in Eruope and beyond. In Germany many who buy French cars say that they only do so for reason that they are front drive cars- well not anymore.

  6. FreudeKing says:

    Extensive cost cutting in all the wrong areas is what BMW is doing, just to squeeze that extra cent for this financial year. Look at what irresponsible cost cutting has done to Merc a few years ago. What a shame that they now want to use the same chassis for all models. What happened to individual driving characteriscs of each BMW model? Did that fly out the window with this new $$$ engineering boss? Imagine the impact of suc cost cutting measure on recalls! Look at the number of massive recalls this year (record breaking!), and this is only the official recalls. How many others do we have that were not classified as a recall due to the fact that it is not a critical safety issue.

    My problem with BMW’s long term positioning is simple: BMW is concentrating on short term profits AT THE EXPENSE OF LONG TERM SUCCESS. This is evident in the launching of this new small front wheel drive cars that DOES NOT even fit the BMW brand. BMW has pride itself with superior handling with exclusive RWD for the past few decades, telling customers that this is one of the most important reasons for their perfect handling. And now??? New management themselves even admitted that this FWD BMW is not good for the brand but gave a ridiculous reason that “the brand is strong enough” to take this knock! They could have easily launched this under another brand or the Mini brand within the BMW Group but because they want to use the BMW logo on this product to move units, they will sacrifice brand image. Another terrible backing from Robertson is that ” no one has ever told him that a Mini is not fun to drive” So is he saying that a Mini drives better than a BMW? (If not then this is not a justifiable reason). Is he saying that the expectation of a Mini owner is the same as a BMW? Does a Mini drive better than a BMW? If the answer is yes, then we should all go buy FWD cars i.e. Audi’s, clearly they have greater experience in making FWD cars than BMW and seeing that Robertson thinks that FWD cars are more fun to drive than RWD???

    Also the ridiculous survey results mentioned by the CEO regarding 80% of the 1 Series drivers didn’t know it was FWD has questionable credibility. This is clearly a piece of evidence that management use to support their decision to push for a FWD BMW, so how accurate is this number? Futhermore, this is also an extremely bad reflection on BMW, why were they not able to let the public and the customer know that this is the only RWD car in its class, i.e. offering the best handling in this class? Clearly they didn’t do their job and market the 1 Series properly. They were not able to capitalise on this highly important competitive advantage…..or were they concentrating too much on JOY without telling people where the JOY actually comes from in a BMW, as people also get JOY from driving a VW Golf GTI. Furthermore, the fact that people do not know (about FWD/RWD) does not justify giving them inferior products. The fact that I don’t know what materials are used inside the engine does not justify BMW giving me inferior quality that will not last. BMW should be giving their customers THE BEST, even if the customers do not know what is THE BEST, or what is needed to make THE BEST. This is the attitude that a top company should have, not this thing that the CEO suggested: because they don’t/won’t know, we will give them inferior stuff. What a shame!

    Furthermore, now people needing to pay more (i.e. getting sports package etc.) to get a BMW to drive like what a BMW used to drive like. I am shocked that they think this is acceptable. A BMW has been well known for their brilliant driving dynamics, no matter the model. i.e. when you put on a BMW badge, it is a symbol for quality, style, excellent driving dynamics, performance, etc. Now they are telling me that we need to pay extra to get a BMW to drive nicely? So everything that we have come to expect from a BMW badged product is flying out the window, one by one. I think we should all re-evaluate the brand if this is the direction BMW is heading. As clearly, if this is the case, BMW is throwing away one of the brand’s core values, which made it successful throughout the past few decades.

    With regards to the implementation of new technology: The BMW Group should be ASHAMED with their inferior electric steering. 90% of the reviews that I have read on new BMWs with this electric steering has been negative. The steering contributes significantly to driving dynamics and for BMW to have allowed such a sub-standard steering to be fit on almost all their new cars is unbelievable. They should have perfected this thing before introduction. In fact, this makes me wonder if they even tested this thing properly or were they in a rush to be one of the first ones to introduce what is clearly an inferior product.

    To try and make this sound like a strategic fit will not help the fact that current management is trashing teh brand. What’s a smaller and smaller car? BMW is going to come up with a car that competes with the Toyota Yaris. The Audi A1 is a VW Polo!! A Fiat 500 is not even premium. So BMW will now reach the lower end of th market and get away from their premium status just to make more $$$. And just a word of warning, the fact that management says and tries to convince the public that a Tata Nano with a BMW badge is premium, does not mean it is premium. If BMW come out with trash, customers will know it is trash. See how badly the Polo A1 is selling and you will understand. But wait, Audi has products like th R8 to back its image. What has BMW got? 5GT? GO SLEEP!

    • Doug says:

      Wooord. Well-said.

    • bob says:

      no it has so many cars that back its image i.e x6m, m6,m3, and so many others….and btw not all ppl need the RWD some ppl use cars jst in the city so they dnt actually need a large engine or a powerful car for everyday use even though some ppl prefer a rwd but also u shd take into consideration that also some ppl prefer FWD…i agree with u that bmw shouldnt compete with low end of the market and lose its premium status for money they shd keep their name in the market as BMW and nvr produce cars that wd lower their name…

      • S85power says:

        They lost something the day a turbo charged 4cyl powerplant came into play….I currently own a 2012 X5 5.0 and a highly modified 2007 e60 M5, these were the last of the real BMWs, its a company that is growing and I hope continues to grow, though its growing into something else..Its looking more and more like Mercedes of the 90s and early 2000s, long term BMW will learn from the mistakes they are now making, the fact Mercedes have bounced back gives me hope for my beloved BMW.

  7. T says:

    Actually with the Compact /MINI , Premium Compact and Premium Entry classes BMW have invested in their future.
    These three segments are the ones that wiill show considerable growth than any other segment. Which is why BMW have invested specifically within these segments over the past few years and why BMW who will be the first manufacturer to showcase this new future strategy, it is BMW once again showing everyone “who is the leader”.

    It is true that a variety of models will be created off the new modular structure BMW has invested in to accomodate both the 1er and 3er and the MINI and Compact. But with being modular you can add and subtract , increase length and width and so on. This will help BMW distinguish each model – This is not the VW one platform many models. this is like Meccano you build to your desire ot subtract.
    to your required needs. This helps greatly for the chassis engineers because they can adapt their chassis to the model that will be on top. ” The platform is described as one head with many hats.

    Front Wheel drive will not only allow BMW and MINI to co-exist in engineering it will also propell BMW further in meeting emissions target, to which BMW is almost there with our competitors still facing to meet reductions by about 42 and 45% respectively. In Europe the C-segment MPV market is increasing but when looking at the availablity you are left with a Van with windows. For BMW that is an un-tapped market and there is a market for such a BMW but done in a more stylish direction. The FAST Family Activity Sport Tourer is a mixture of Touring , MPV and an X model it is an entirely new concept but it looks great , very innovative aswell as uber stylish.

    The BMW Front Wheel Drive Family will not be transferred to the core BMW family – that will remain RWD. I have seen the Family and they are nothing like what you expect such a car to be , Adrian Van Hooydunk has seen to that they emulate a very different persona and offer the new direction a striking . modern appearance. One thing I should mention though is that they all maintain a “premium” image. Throughout the FWD process premium is still associated with the concepts BMW will introduce.
    The A1 which is based on the VW Polo shows what happens when you chase for growth without thinking about the product. The Polo is not only less expensive than the A1 it also drives and rides better and the German media have made that point. Both BMW and MINI can co-exist and that is why BMW will not make the same mistake – Premium has to be individual from mainstream or it does not work with the customer.

    Is the 80% of 1er driver believe their car is FWD a poor argument?
    because look at some photos of people across the globe trying to get mobile in heavy snow (without winter tyres) and you see the justification for that statement. of course these are the only few who have been caught out , just think of the others who have not.

    Regarding image when you think of how has the best image for a majority of segments – best car in class – Premium Entry – The 3er , Best mid-executive sedan – The 5er , Best Entry Sports car – M3 , Best SUV (SAV)- X5 I can go on but the outcome is the same for many other segments because what you hear almost everytime in fact is BMW.
    The BMW brand does not need further image enhancement because enthusiasts know what a BMW has,does and will always do – Offer the most Sporting , dynamics , style and innovation within an automobile concept.
    But for BMW our future projects the MegaCity Vehicle and the i8 will be groundbreaking symbols of BMW for the future. These are going to rock the automobile world because they will be well ahead of their time and the competition.
    They take each concept and define it to be a sports car from the future and so on.

    Yes we have a 5er GT and it has proved to be very popular. 5er GT has also instrumental in .bringing new customers to BMW following other vehicles such as the X6 and of course X1 and many others.

    Why should BMW just be a competitor when they want to be a Pioneer.
    That is what makes BMW the success it is “We do it our way, not their way”

    • FreudeKing says:

      Can you please explain how a front wheel drive car produces less CO2 than a rear wheel drive car??? If that’s the case (which I don’t think it is), then we should all flock to Audi. or do you mean you expect to sell more of these FWD cars so that BMW can meet their target? If that’s the case, then answer this: What’s the problem with launching another brand within the BMW Group for this FWD cars instead of trashing decades of tradition and what BMW believeD in? The only valid explanantion that I can think of is short term sales success and management bonus as in the long term, the current bunch would have been gone. This sort of decision is tragic.

      You do know that your 1 head many hats means that not every single car is specifically desgined to give a driving experience that is at its best, which is what BMW used to believe in. We are already having numerous comments about the 5 Series (which is basically a 7 Series) does not drive as well anymore. This is on top of the electric steering problems that BMW did not perfect before launching it to their customers. So will the iconic 3 Series sedan be FWD in the future? I think I have no choice but to switch to another brand that is more exclusive in this case when that time comes.

      Your MPV example is shocking. So you think BMW should fill every segment of the market. Current Volvo busses are not elegant enough, you think BMW can make a bus as well to compete against Volvo? Maybe a premium elegant truck to compete against Merc trucks as well???

      Your argument about RWD cars being stuck in snow is also shocking. So in your view, we should all buy Audis because then we won’t have a high risk of getting stuck in snow 6 months in a year? Why spend on a BMW when you can only drive it problem free for 6 months in a year?

      What do you mean BMW does not need an image boost? Do you think BMW is so high and mighty that they are unbeatable? I don’t think so. More and more people are choosing Audi and thinking that Audisare cooler than BMWs. This is why Audi managed to grab substantail market share from BMW over the past 3 years. Audi has improved their brand image with the launch of cars like the R8 and extensive advertising, while BMW’s new management team embark on cost cutting strategy to try and impress shareholders and boost their own bonuses at the expense of long term success of the company.

      And you didn’t get my last point: I am saying that the coming generation would rather put a poster of an R8 on their walls than a 5GT (which is much less inspiring for the youth, who will be your customers tomorrow).

      BMW should be pioneers, but pioneering in all the wrong stuff creates an adverse effect. Unfortunately, BMW is now seen as doing things the VW way and not the exclusive traditional BMW way, which has lead it to be no. 1 since 2005. I mean, going down as low as competing against Toyota Yaris with a FWD car, yet try to make it sound expensive by saying that it is premium is just BS. New management at the BMW Group are now resting on BMW’s past success, cutting cost left right and centre, giving inferior products to customers to try and get that extra $ out of them. Their attitude is as follows: BMW is strong enough to take the knock – any kind of knock that may be detrimental to the BMW brand image – like FWD cars, Yaris competitors, cutting on advertising, not doing anything to improve the brand image. This is the reason why companies fall – management has too much confidence and fail to see danger coming. Audi will soon dethrown BMW.

    • BIMMER1 says:

      “because look at some photos of people across the globe trying to get mobile in heavy snow (without winter tires) and you see the justification for that statement. of course these are the only few who have been caught out , just think of the others who have not.”

      A rwd car will go anywhere a fwd car will go with the right tires. If you could have the same exact car with the same tires, one FWD and one RWD, the rwd car will go anywhere the fwd car will. Just because drivers these days are usually clueless, does that mean it’s industries and the GOV’s job to make products safe for dumb people? If you live where it snows or gets colder than 40 degrees, you should have snow tires on and car be it FWD/RWD/AWD. A/S tires are not made to provide adequate traction in snow and in those temperatures. They are simply made so if you have decent tread left (above 6-7/32) you will most likely be able to get around but not very well. Below 6/32 they are useless in snow. It has a lot less to do with FWD vs. RWD and is more about having the right tires and being educated on how to drive in those conditions. The majority of people these days don’t pay attention to either of those things, so they deserve what they got coming. This country sucks when it comes to educating drivers. Hell people can’t even check their own tire pressures these days and most don’t even know how to! The fact is most people are uneducated drivers and many cars today come with high performance or A/S tires that don’t perform well in snow. I can’t tell you how many people complain to me because their brand new X5/X6 with the sport package won’t go in the snow. It just might have something to do with the fact that the tires are a foot wide and have hardly any lateral grooves in the tread. But I guess I have some kind of super power which instilled that common sense knowledge in me.

    • Doug says:

      These are purely business considerations…. I am disappointed that you didn’t address or acknowledge the concerns of the driver and loyal enthusiast. Why is there such dead air on this subject? Why did Bangle leave, again?

      Saying that BMW is a “leader” or “pioneer” or “best in class” or “popular” is irrelevant to the person driving the car — they want “ultimate driving machine” performance and substance. Is BMW trying to have the best driving machine, or is it acceptable (and economical) to only be perceived as having the best driving machine? They’re not just brand attributes, they are qualities that have been proven over decades through solid engineering. Now, we have this cynical marketing-driven strategy that aims to borrow against this goodwill during this transition to whatever distinction JOY is making.

      It’s possible that the weight savings of FWD will allow BMW to hit these emissions/economy numbers. Fine. But where are the quantified goals for handling, yaw response, steering response and feedback, etc etc etc? Are there any? What has BMW done to at least describe how they will compensate for the tradeoffs of FWD? Certainly they didn’t do anything about the electric steering fiasco, and that was directly against the expected qualities of a BMW.

      • T says:

        First anf foremost BMW is a business it has to generate a profit and as a business it is ranked as one of the highest independent companies in the world. And Independence is what BMW and their principle shareholders would like to keep the company.

        The general demographic of BMW has changed since the introduction of the Premium model strategy , BMW has now branched outwards and especially to new customers. All which has made BMW the worlds no1 premium manufacturer.
        BMW has a loyal customer base , including customers who see through the Audi -premium VW disguise. BMW’s core models are successful because they tap into what enthusiasts want , they deliver on their core promise. Along with an image and style that appeals to the customer. why cannot the Compact and FWD , a BMW must appeal to all markets and in europe there is demand for a BMW with space for small families.
        And that is something we hpe to address.
        BMW has not forgotten it’s roots because each car retains it’s attributes and what has made the car the icon it is. BMW 3er , 5er , 7er , X1 , X5 , M3 are their respective segment leaders and the cycle will continue within the next generation and so on.
        in Germany BMW has always used JOY it is now we have spread the message across the globe.

        • Doug says:

          Sure, they are responsible to protect certain interests, and perhaps take special steps in this economy. But when a company is structured purely for profit – which is what I’m hearing – every other value that is disposable to attain that goal *is disposed of*. Any other expectation is naive. FreudeKing makes a really good point about the restraint of the previous management teams and the way they balanced profit motive with the value of the bmw identity. That’s hard to do at a public company; it takes real skill in articulating the value of these things, and that was absolutely not exemplified by that FWD/RWD study (for example) and its obtuse hypothesis and information gathering. I can only imagine that the other pivotal considerations were quantified the same way.

          Take demographics for example. If they’ve changed substantially, but you still have a loyal customer base, then what does that say about the necessity of these changes? It seems to me that the changes are speculative counter-strategy to the competition’s lineup. With respect to the loyal customer base, it would appear that BMW is not committed to the values that the core customer is loyal *for*. These people are the informed, discriminating enthusiasts, and they are arguably the pillar of the brand’s credibility; everyone else will detect the shift when this happens among the people they respect (or are insecure around). This is already occurring with Audi.

          Which brings me to the marketing rhetoric. And I mean *rhetorical*, because that’s the only way it can work. What’s this “audi premium disguise” exactly? If BMW is going with a modular platform where each platform isn’t optimized for each specific model, then what difference does it make that Audi uses VW platforms? Personally, I need more than this kind of assertion. In theory, management and the BoD would expect more than this kind of assertion, too.

          It’s a depressing story that we see over and over again. Some executive team comes along promising “profitability” and they negotiate de facto carte blanche to make “necessary changes”. They begin slashing expenses, then opposition, then core competencies. Towards the middle of this process they achieve their short-term profit/loss goals and give optimistic projections. Bonuses are given. Then the new vision goes into effect, but it cannot succeed because so many customers have been lost and that impact won’t show up for another few quarters, at which time the transition is an obvious failure and the BoD fires everyone and installs a executive SWAT team. The execs collect their packages and go on to do exactly the same thing at the next company. The saddest part is that any brilliant, inspired teams responsible for former success are utterly wrecked.

          • Bimmer1 says:

            Maybe part of the problem is that Mercedes did what BMW is starting to do now 10 years ago. The Benz faithful left after hanging around for a while, sort of a going down with the ship sort of thing. Then they jumped off and ran to BMW. So then BMW started making their cars more like Mercedes to please them.

          • FreudeKing says:

            @T: just your words here ” a BMW must appeal to all markets” shows us that you do not understand the core brand values of the BMW brand, its tradition and exclusicity. I would have expected such statements from companies like VW and Toyota.

            BMW has lost the attitude of making the best and pride themselves of making the best, which was seen evident from former management teams. Now, it’s all about profits and business. Don’t forget that behind every business, there must be an exceptional product. This is comething that is built over the long term to gain customers’ trust and loyalty.

            Furthermore, BMW drivers may not be as loyal as you think. You certainly would want new customers entering the market to be BMW’s customers too. Unfortunately both these are currently not satisfied as BMW has been consistently losing market share to Audi. This means that more and more customers (new and old) are buying Audi’s as opposed to BMWs. So your loyaltyargument does not hold.

            Furthermore, I am shocked that you seem to rely on the fact that you think BMW customers are loyal and suggest the fact that you can dish out anything and they will still buy because you think they are loyal. This is exactly the attitude that has caused current management to disregard the long term brand damage for short term gains. Even the new CEO said “BMW brand is strong enough [to take the knock of a FWD car]” hinting that he knows it is bad for the brand but must do it to make some $ to please shareholders and boost his bonus.

            The attitude at BMW shoulod be: We make what we believe is the best, which is what our tradition is built on, EVEN THOUGH OUR CUSTOMERS DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS NEEDED TO MAKE THE BEST (RWD). This is what customers, including me, expect from BMW. Not this: just because I don’t know about certain things, I will be taken advantage of. I don’t know what materials they use for making my engine. But becasue it is a BMW, I trust (from past experience) that it will be reliable.

            It is disguisting that current management is managing BMW in such a manner. This is an exclusive. premium brand. BMW is not a cost leader. It leads by differentiation (superior products, quality, performance). Current management would be better suited to manage companies like VW, where they make products for all people, as T likes it.

  8. Woo Hoo says:

    Great for the 1er, making it no longer the cheapest Bimmer sold.

  9. BIMMER1 says:

    How can you not love this logic? 80% of 1 series owners think their car is FWD, according to some random survey that is. I think they just went to a SoCal high school and asked every 16 year old girl, but whatever. So they thought, with that in mind why don’t we capitalize on it and build a FWD and make more money. At the same time we’ll completely destroy the image and identity that we’ve fought to keep and taken so much pride in over the past 40 years. Ohe os the worst things to happen with BMW was making Norbert Reithofer the CEO. He hasn’t made a single decision that held true to BMW’s core brand values since he joined the board in 2000. Then once he was made CEO in 2006 the shit really hit the fan. The people that came before him recognized they had to stand up for the brands core values knowing that they could easily sell more cars and increase profits if they moved away from that kind of thinking. They showed much restraint and did everything they could to hold on to those core values as they knew the brand as they knew it would be dead as soon as they lost sight of them. They believed in the brand and bled blue and white, not green. Reithofer has completely ignored the brand’s true identity and in the process has turned BMW into just another car company like everyone else. To him and the rest of the current board, it’s all about the money. Don’t be fooled by all the green initiatives, as they are almost all just money making scams that put money into the GOV and share holder’s pockets. Sure, the ridiculous standards put in place by the CAFE/EPA’s of the world have put more pressure on manufacturers but that is no reason to completely ignore everything the company has stood for all these years. All we’ve ever heard is “BMW will never build a FWD car”. They even went so far as to publicly advertise that “That’s why we don’t have FWD’s”. (see Now all of a sudden since some survey showed how many BMW drivers are totally oblivious to anything automotive related, they just say to hell with it. The same thing happened recently with their position on hybrids. For 20 years BMW has had a production ready hydrogen vehicle. BMW has always said they will never build a hybrid car stating that hybrids are simply a temporary and inadequate solution to a long term problem. Not to mention the fact that a hybrid is actually worse for the envoironment than many regular petrol cars from the 90’s due to the amount of pollution and hazardous waste associated with them during their entire life cycle. Now BMW has decided to build two hybrids, both ridiculously priced and they still lose tens of thousands of dollars on every one they sell. Their reason for building it, the competition makes one so we have to. That is the exact opposite of what the board would have said prior to Reithofer steering the brand off course. The only good decision he’s been involved with was to get out of F1 and back into sports car programs. And it seems that decision is the one a lot of people are upset about. Go figure. But then once again, that decision was probably made based on saving money instead of getting back into sports car racing for the right reasons. I’m telling you, all of this makes me want to spit.

    • FreudeKing says:

      I agree. That 1 Series survey is not credible at all. This engineer CEO must stop messing BMW up. All he is doing is diluting BMW’s brand, trying to embark on strategies to please shareholders now at the expense of long term success. Since his appointment, BMW has lost chunks of market share worldwide.

      • PJ says:

        please fire this reithofer… clearly this engineer has no clu of what brand image and success is… it has taken bmw so many years to build what it has today – its culture, tradition and exclusivity. what a pity it is now all going to be messed up in the hands of this ceo who tries so hard to suck up to shareholder.

        if it doesn’t fit the brand values, you should not make it, even though you can make big profit.

        reithofer should rather go work for toyota/vw where they care about cost cutting, filling the market with cheap small cars, etc. bmw is premium and what he is doing is taking awya the premium status of this brand.

      • T says:

        Your statement is wrong and without fact regarding BMW losing Market share.
        For example the 3er , 5er and 7er is currently the segment leader in several markets including Germany.

        Sales have increased for the MINI , Rolls-Royce and BMW Brands and BMW is still the Worlds no1. Premium manufacturer.
        It is not shareholders BMW are just aiming to satisfy , but to keep their independence as a manufacturer is the primary goal. Why should’nt BMW develop other segments to accomplish this?

  10. yariv says:

    Looks like a 5GT and FORD Fiesta had a kid together!!! Looks good tho

  11. Artmic says:

    i guess they are doing this out of cost savings, and emission regulations?
    The cost savings is bullshit, they make enough profit.
    The emission crap is pointless, out CO2 contribution to the planets atmosphere is so low, no wonder the Media never mentions it on CNN/FOX or some other disinformation channel.

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