Design by committee or often product design based on mass feedback can be quite tricky. Building a product without a long-term strategy plan can be damaging to any brand or business and often ignoring customers’ requests can spark innovation and can lead to the birth of new magical products.
Throughout his career, Steve Jobs famously ignored market research and relied on his intuition, and he was often heard saying “Customers don’t know what they want.” But does the same apply to cars?
For years, BMW fans have been very vocal about the need for the brand to build a new supercar. The successful launch of the Audi R8 has shown the world what a single product can do for the image of a brand, and the R8 has put Audi on the map of performance-driven automakers. BMW’s last supercar dates back as far as 1978 when the Munich engineers built the M1.
In recent years, several hints were given by BMW pointing at a possible supercar in the near future. Some designers said, under anonymity, that building a BMW supercar is their dream and several sketches have already been made. Board members, on the other hand, are reluctant to build the car due to the high costs and R&D efforts, comparatively to the low volume production and margins.
With those things in mind, we’re going to take a closer a look of BMW’s capabilities and strategy around a supercar.
BMW is definitely a company who needs to do an exercise in vanity, just to prove a point.
Lately, we have been hearing all the naysayers who won’t shut up about how BMW can’t produce a supercar. Yes, the BMW i8 is a remarkable piece of engineering, a great design and a profoundly awesome take on the future of performance cars (or cars in general). But, it doesn’t serve a purpose of shutting everybody up, mainly because it doesn’t have a proper M engine in it nor the famous M chassis and engineering.
Overall, BMW excels in three things: engine development, exterior/interior design, and driving performance.
That being said, all three of these things need to come together in a single package, without any compromises – the car should not be shadowed in engine power, exterior and interior beauty and appeal or the driving performance. We’re not saying it needs to be the fastest in a straight line, fastest around a corner or the flashiest on the street, but the BMW supercar needs to have that confident look and idle engine sound that hides its true performance until unleashed on the street or track.
What should they do?
Engine power needs to be around 750 horsepower. Hybrid works. But not mandatory. It needs to be a screaming showcase of a twin-turbo powered monstrosity and a growling exhaust sound that will show BMW means business.
With a weight of around 1,450 kilograms, an xDrive system for super road grip and an i8-like, or better, design, the new supercar will make every owner proud at any car meet.
Inside, BMW should aim for minimalism coupled with sporty features and accents. The sports steering wheel and the driver-oriented controls are a must. Two seats. Space in the boot for a set of golf bags, nothing more.
What should it be called?
The naming should revolve somewhere around the engine designation and M as the main idea behind it. Or, take another marketing play from Apple and simply call it: “BMW M”. The moniker will indicate the rebirth of the brand, and after all, it stands for a limited edition model which has all the ingredients taken from the M Department.
Who would be the preferred customer?
With only 500 of these made, this would be a lesson in brand loyalty for the most part. Future owners would be handpicked, champagne would be flowing in private events and people like Masakuni Hosobuchi, would be the best spokespersons for the brand. The car would instantly become a classic and a museum piece and for the next decades, lots of articles would flow describing BMW’s return to the supercar market.
What are the chances of BMW making such a model in the foreseeable future?
Slim to none. BMW is not wired like that. We’re probably not the only ones that thought about all these ideas and certainly BMW has “ran the numbers” and came up empty so far. We do know that designers, engineers, marketing folks and pretty much the entire company want to build the car, but that long-term strategy we’ve mentioned earlier acts a barrier.
On the other hand, sources within the company tells us that 2016 will bring a surprise for BMW fans. An M product is rumored to be in works, but the details around the tech and design are kept locked up, not surprisingly since the company wants to make a splash on their centenary.
So we pose the question: Should BMW just ignore all the economics and simply build a supercar to show the world what the brand is capable of?
Article co-authored by Horatiu Boeriu and Vanja Kljaic