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Keeping the faith: Dr Michael Ganal with the BMW 7 Series.

BMW board member Dr Michael Ganal jumps to the defence of the 7 Series

5 Dec 2001

BMW Group AG management board member Dr Michael Ganal hasstrongly defended the controversial styling of the new 7 Series, sayingcustomers rather than the media will decide if it is a success or failure.

"At the end of the day, the customer will decide," Mr Ganal said.

"It is not the first case of a really bold design being heavily criticised when it was launched and then, two or five years later, you find it has marked the trend that others will follow. For the time being we are happy that we haven't hidden all the technology under a well known hood."Dr Ganal made the comments during a flying visit last week to farewell retiring BMW Australia managing director Uwe Hartmann and to open the company's new Technical and Staff Training Centre at its local headquarters in Mulgrave, Melbourne.

The E65 7 Series will go on sale in Australia in January with the short wheelbase models coming first, followed by the long wheelbase models and the range-topping 760Li later in the year.

The look of the new 7 Series has drawn strong comment from the media since it was launched at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

British motoring weekly Autocar polled a number of designers at the show on what they thought of the new Seven. Their responses hovered around universal disdain, saying the car was poorly proportioned and heavy, with a distorted tail.

Dr Ganal remarked to a journalist in Australia who challenged the car's styling: "I cannot convince you, if you say the car is ugly then the car looks ugly, in your opinion.

"The world expects from BMW a huge standard in the field of design and this car is an innovation wherever you look at it, from the engine to the exit. So it was just a consequence to parallel the technology with a design that is a huge step forward.

"A strong marque has to make bold steps and bold steps tend to polarise opinion.

"Customers at the upper end of the market are not that dependent on acertain public opinion, as they are prepared to show their profile and a car which polarises tends to attract that."Mr Hartmann also defended the new car, citing recent discussions with7 Series customers.

"I can't recall one conversation with one customer where they said I don't really like the lines and I am not going to buy the car," Mr Hartmann said.

Dr Ganal also maintained that the forthcoming introduction of the Rolls-Royce brand into the BMW Group would not adversely affect the 7 Series' standing as the company's technological leader.

"When it comes to Rolls-Royce, you have to focus on the luxuryelements," he said.

"This is more a broader scope you have to fulfil, so when it comes to sheer innovation, the 7 Series marks the top. The Rolls-Royce is more or less a dream car."Dr Ganal also made the following comments at the mediaconference:6 Series: "... when it comes to 6 Series we have to admit that we were very successful with the 6 Series in the '60s and '70s. Then we left this segment and we learned we should be in this segment."X3: "The X3 is nothing more than just making use of our experience with the X5. The X5 is an unbelievable success - it was a good idea to realise the features of a luxury sedan in a sports utility vehicle."1 Series: "The 1 Series is just a reaction to the fact that the 3 Series grew and grew and grew ... we saw a good chance to have a sporty car below the 3 Series, nevertheless a true BMW. 1 Series will enable younger customers to enter the BMWfamily and then upgrade."Alternative fuel sources: "For the time being we have our Valvetronic technology, at least for the next five years - direct-injected diesel engine has a huge future when it comes to a sheer consumption focus. Long term we are convinced that hydrogen could lead the car in a new future, but this is really long term."

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