When BMW broke the news that it was buying ALPINA, it felt like a somber day for many enthusiasts. I read countless comments on this site from readers who were convinced BMW’s acquisition spelled death for ALPINA’s brand heritage. Fears of ALPINA trim packages being offered on normal Bimmers began to spread throughout our readers. However, if my opinion means anything at all, I think ALPINA is going to be fine.
As cynical as BMW may seem lately; with it diluting the M Division’s motorsport heritage into a series of packages and badges for boring, soft cars like the M440i Gran Coupe; the Bavarians are actually quite good at remaining faithful to their sub-brands. Let’s look at Rolls-Royce for example.
Rolls-Royce is one iconic nameplates in the automotive industry. It’s been making the most luxurious cars on the planet before most current brands existed. The idea that the famed British brand be bought by Germans seemed like a recipe for disaster at the time but it’s actually proven to be incredibly successful. Not just in terms of profits but actual brand prestige. Rolls-Royce has never been more opulent and impressive, all while remaining true to its heritage.
Rollers are still made in England, still hand assembled, and still entirely bespoke. Sure, all Rolls models use BMW electronics but that’s a small price to pay for the success of the brand. Those electronics, however cynical their presence may seem, allow Rolls-Royce to invest money elsewhere, which makes its vehicles even more luxurious than ever before. Cars like the new Phantom, Ghost, and the upcoming Spectre wouldn’t be possible without BMW’s ownership.
BMW also has a very long and healthy relationship with the Bovenseipen family. It started with Burkard, back in the ’60s and ’70s, when he began tuning and racing BMWs, with great success. He started selling aftermarket parts, with BMW’s blessing, for several Bavarian models. Before long, it was a fruitful full-on partnership, from which ALPINA would tune BMWs from the factory and sell them. The two brands have been becoming closer and closer over the years, with some ALPINAs even being built entirely in BMW factories, such as the ALPINA XB7 which is built at the BMW Spartanburg, South Carolina plant.
Andreas Bovenseipen, Burkard’s son and the current CEO of ALPINA, clearly trusts BMW and vice versa. The partnership between the two is strong and I don’t see Andreas agreeing to sell if he felt BMW would somehow ruin the brand. Sure, there will likely be some dilution, as BMW will eventually take over production of all ALPINA models, however it likely won’t be to the extent that fans fear.
I understand the worry that ALPINA will become an M Performance-style trim package for normal BMWs. However, I honestly don’t see that happening. The brass at BMW clearly respects ALPINA and its ownership and Andreas Bovenseipen clearly trusts BMW. I think ALPINA is gonna be just fine. If anything, it may become better than ever before, just like Rolls-Royce.