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Boutique sales for BMW’s Megacity

Rare beast: BMW's Megacity electric car will be aimed at the world's metropolises - and Australia is not a priority.

Don’t hold your breath for BMW’s first EV in Australia

BMW logo10 Aug 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

BMW has started trials of an all-new retail sales strategy that will be employed to sell its first all-electric vehicle, but Australia could be one of the last markets in line for the Bavarian luxury brand’s ground-breaking new ‘Megacity’ vehicle, or MCV.

Using the Mini brand to test its success, BMW’s ambitious “brand experience” approach to selling a range of vital new small cars – including the Megacity EV from 2013 and, soon after, BMW’s first front-drive model, codenamed UKL – is already under way in New Zealand and Hong Kong.

BMW Australia spokesman Piers Scott told GoAuto at last week’s 2011 3 Series Coupe and Convertible launch: “In the context of the MCV we’re also talking about a new retail approach that’s at least two years away.

“There’s something being trialled at the moment. NZ is one of the pilot countries – the other one is Hong Kong.

“It’s what’s called Mini Advanced Retail and it includes brand stores on the high streets, with the idea if treating Mini like a brand first and foremost, like Apple i-stores.

“There will be cars there and you can do test drives from there, but the primary function is a brand experience store.” Mr Scott said lessons learned from the Mini Advanced Retail trials were likely to be employed to market BMW’s first EV, the MCV, which has been confirmed for production in 2013 – the same year it will be released under a new sub-brand.

The new retail approach is also expected to be applied to BMW’s first front-drive model, which will be based on the next-generation Mini platform to rival models such the VW Polo and goes by the UKL working title (for UntereKompactklasse, or sub-compact), but could emerge wearing 0 Series badges by 2014.

“What it’s recognising is that these cars require a slightly different retail approach, so I would suggest there will be lessons learned from that and further from the MCV that will dictate how more of these UKL and smaller cars are sold,” said Mr Scott, adding that the brand experience stores would feature interactive configurators on large plasma screens, and mobile sales people, but no workshop or servicing facilities.

However, Mr Scott conceded that Australia’s lack of mega-cities (cities with a population of more than 10 million) could, by definition, put it behind markets like North America, China, Japan and Europe in the Megacity and UKL production queues.

“I think we would certainly evaluate those cars very closely for the Australian market,” he said. “But when you are introducing something that’s such an unknown quantity they’re obviously not going to be too bullish on production in the early stages.

“Given that the MCV is a car that’s designed for extremely large mega-cities they would obviously be given priority and I’d suggest there will be a rolling out of such vehicles.

“Look at the way the Mini E has been trialled. There will also be an Active E hybrid trial, which is based on the 1 Series Coupe. Those sorts of trials will probably guide what sort of launch strategy they take (with MCV and UKL).”
What’s coming from BMW:
3 Series Coupe facelift August
3 Series Convertible facelift August
Z4 35is convertible late August
X1 sDrive18i September
X1 xDrive25i September
520d and 535i Touring September
Mini Countryman Early 2011
X3 redesign Early 2011
Mini Coupe Mid-2011
1 Series M Coupe Mid-2011
6 Series Convertible Mid-2011
6 Series Coupe Late 2011
M5 redesign Early 2012
1 Series hatch redesign Early 2012
3 Series sedan redesign Early 2012
Mini Roadster 2012
6 Series sedan 2012
Megacity EV 2013
0 Series 2014
Mini hatch MkIII 2014

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