Frankfurt am Main, Germany – BMWBLOG had the opportunity to interview Dr. Friedrich Nitschke the new President of BMW M GmbH, arguably one of the neatest jobs to be had in the car world. The interview was conducted in the closed-to-the-public room being used by BMW Security Vehicles located inside the BMW Lounge in Halle 11 at Frankfurt.
To set the scene there were a couple of tables and comfortable couches in the room as well as a display of some of the technology used by BMW Security Vehicles and there was also an armored BMW X5 on display.
BMWBLOG – (pointing to the armored X5) Can you turn that into an M?
[At this point Dr. Nitschke and other BMW associates started to laugh.]
Dr. Nitschke – The car is too heavy.
BMWBLOG – Now I know some people have said that about the X6 . . .
[Dr. Nitschke took all of this in stride and has a great sense of humor to go along with having one of the best jobs in the automotive industry.]
BMWBLOG – What do you gain or give up in the transition to turbo engines from naturally aspirated engines?
Dr. Nitschke – When we start a project like the M5 we have a special set of figures, numbers, to meet. These are the targets the M sets for the car. These targets have to be achieved regardless of the technology we use. For the new M5 it was very important to create a car with less fuel consumption and less carbon dioxide emissions than the predecessor. It also had to have increased power (in the case of the turbo V8, 30% more torque and 10% more HP). The V8 was the best engine to hit the targets.
BMWBLOG – Then the V10 would not have met those targets?
Dr. Nitschke – We tested the V10 with additional volume [more cubic inches – Ed.] but we found that the V8 would meet the targets. You have the torque from 1500 RPM and this enigne can also utilize the Start/Stop
And that also helps meet the fuel consumption targets. M does not get a pass on utilizing EfficientDynamics.
BMWBLOG – How did the use of electronically controlled dampers allow the ability to deliver luxury and sport?
Dr. Nitschke – That was very important to us. By pressing one button you can change the suspension from being very luxury oriented to very sporting. It is absolutely necessary for this type of car. For example, at the moment this is my favorite car because in the morning as a commuter from home to office with pre-work distractions I want a comfortable car in traffic. In the evening when I leave the office, I’m normally in a positive mood and then you press the sport button, accelerator, steering – the noise becomes more aggressive – and then the M5 becomes the wolf.
BMWBLOG – Will we see the ConnectedDrive features in M models?
Dr. Nitschke – Yes. We take a lot of features we have in BMW and use them in M. Our customers are asking for these features in their M cars.
BMWBLOG – With the 1 Series M Coupe [BMW's designation for the car known to us as the 1M – Ed.] you can appeal to a younger buyer that may not have the same financial resources as an M3 or M5 buyer. Very often the entry into the M brand for young buyers is via a used M. Maintenance is critical on these cars; how long are parts kept available for M models?
Dr. Nitschke – We keep parts available for better than a decade, and even then there are still parts stockpiled in dealerships throughout the world.
BMWBLOG – How does computer software aid in hitting performance targets?
Dr. Nitschke – We use a lot of software. The most important thing is to connect all of the sources of information, from there you can offer new opportunities/features for the driver. It means using what is available to provide functionality rather than bringing in new pieces of hardware.
You use the information available from the anti-lock brakes, engine, transmission, suspension, other sensors, and bring it into a fast processor. That allows you to create new information, synthesized information, for the customer.
BMWBLOG – And that’s one of the reasons FlexRay is so important.
Dr. Nitschke – Absolutely.
BMWBLOG – How has BMW’s withdrawal from Formula 1 racing benefited M?
Dr. Nitschke – [a chuckle] In my opinion it was the right decision to withdraw from Formula 1. Look at Porsche for example, they are not in Formula 1 and yet they are vey successful in sports car racing. And I got a lot of good engineers from the Formula 1 team. After the withdrawal from Formula 1 these engineers were free and most of them came to the M division. These are very special experts.
BMWBLOG – How long will the current M3 be in production?
Dr. Nitschke – More than two years.
BMWBLOG – What has been the reaction to the 1M?
Dr. Nitschke – Fantastic positive reaction. We have a lot of incoming orders. We are producing at capacity. It has been a very positive reaction.
BMWBLOG – How did the 1M program come into being?
Dr. Nitschke – It was a submarine. [An under the radar project – Ed.] Our workshop took a 135 and worked on how to make an M car out of it. They grabbed the turbo six cylinder from the Z4 sDrive35is and fitted the M3 suspension and tested it. They said it was a really good car. Management saw it and because it could not be called an M1 it became the 1 Series M Coupe.
BMWBLOG – Is the M3 the core of the M brand?
Dr. Nitschke – Absolutely. The M3 and now the M5 also. The M3 has to be the best of BMW.
The interview came to a close within half an hour, too soon for such a good (and fun) conversation. There were many other things we would have liked to discuss with Dr. Nitschke. But one impression we came away with
from the interview is that BMW M is in very good hands. And if you ever have the opportunity to say hello to Dr. Nitschke do so, you won’t regret it.