BMW’s “Ultimate Driving Machine” slogan has been challenged by enthusiasts over the past few years, with fans claiming that the brand’s continuous niche-busting and technology-inventing habits have diluted its pure driving experience. This complaint from fans as been exhausted for years now, but Hildegard Wortmann, senior vice-president of BMW product management, has something to say about that during an interview with Autoguide.
Continue Reading Below
In fact, Wortmann has no idea why fans would think such a thing. When asked if BMW has lost its way, she said “No, I would be surprised to hear that question.” She points to the many M cars currently in BMW’s stable that offer exceptional driving performance and fun, especially the newly released BMW M2. “For me, I always call it the ‘little devil,’ ” She continued to talk about the M2 and how it harkens back to the old days of BMW, as it’s been constantly compared to the 2002 and E30 M3 “I think it shows where the roots are, where the genes of the brand are … I’m sure it [the M2] will be a top seller.”
However, fans will still point to small hatchbacks and electric vehicles that are ruining the brand’s performance image. Though, Wortmann doesn’t see it like that. “As times are changing, as consumers are changing, as the environment is changing, you need to make sure that you are carefully evolving your brand as well,” Basically, Wortmann is saying that BMW can’t only focus on performance vehicles, as these current times call for so much more and if BMW wants to survive as a global leader in automobiles, it’s going to have to adapt to the times and create vehicles so many people want to buy. It can’t just be a brand for car enthusiasts or it wouldn’t survive.
It’s likely that most BMW enthusiasts understand this and actually don’t mind the new technology and green image. In fact, the BMW i3 has actually been widely embraced by enthusiast community and the i8 has been a revelation. But it’s more of all of the strange niche vehicles that BMW keeps pushing that has bothered enthusiasts. Cars like the X4, X6, 5 Series Gran Turismo and upcoming X2 have enthusiasts bothered, as they feel these vehicles dilute the brand. However, Wortmann feels differently, saying “We have to offer a certain variety of different concepts and different products.” To which she continued, “I think the times are gone where somebody buys a 3 Series 10 times in a row. They go and buy a 3, then they go for an X1 … then they go for a four-door coupe or something else.” And if you think that these niche vehicles are diluting the brand, especially the M Division, Wortmann implores you to look at Mercedes-Benz and its AMG subbrand. “If you look at their range, they’re doing less volume than we do with 18 [AMG] models and we’re doing it with nine models.” So she clearly wants to show that the M Division, despite the talk of dilution, is actually more exclusive than its competition.
So, regardless of and so-called dilution of the brand, Wortmann tells us that BMW will always be the Ultimate Driving Machine. “So of course BMW, whatever we do, is the Ultimate Driving Machine, and that’s what it’s going to stay.”