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BMW acquires Alpina
Munich-based BMW to bring 57-year-old Buchloe tuning company Alpina in-house
15 Mar 2022
By MIKE FOURIE
WHAT is better than having one performance division? Having two. BMW, which has achieved much success with its famed M division, is buying the brand rights of the Alpina tuning firm, which has been building high-performance cars based on Bimmers for 57 years.
This new development is reminiscent of BMW rival Mercedes-Benz taking a controlling interest in tuning firm AMG in 1999 and acquiring the Affalterbach-based company outright in 2005.
Today, F1’s dominant team bears the name of the renamed Mercedes-AMG division, which produces several models that headline the brand’s passenger car and SUV line-up.
While the particulars of the deal between BMW and Alpina – which is subject to various suspensive conditions – remain undisclosed with both parties agreeing not to reveal any financial details, the firm’s existing co-operation agreement will run until the end of 2025.
Buchloe-based Alpina will probably keep its focus on combustion-engined BMW models until then, after which, BMW says, the cooperation will continue “in a different form”.
BMW said the acquisition would bring greater diversity to its line-up and secure the long-term future of Alpina, which has been active in tuning and motorsports from the 1960s and began manufacturing passenger cars based on BMW products as long ago as 1978.
The family-owned company employs about 300 people and produced about 2000 units in 2021.
Viability of low-volume manufacturers is under threat because of the motor industry’s transformation to electromobility and increasing legal requirements, BMW says.
Therefore, the acquisition of Alpina will allow the Munich-based car giant to “shape the long-term course of the specialist brand as the industry goes through a far-reaching transformation toward sustainable mobility,” BMW sales chief Pieter Nota said in a statement.
Under the deal, BMW will manage the Alpina brand and its products, while the latter will continue to operate the maintenance and spare parts business for BMW Alpina cars.
Alpinas are pre-assembled by BMW and final assembly takes place in Buchloe, about 70km west of Munich.
The tuning firm's modifications extend to engine, drivetrain, suspension, body kits and aerodynamic tweaks, as well as individual exterior and interior executions to customer specifications, which is why the firm’s models demand such a premium over even BMW M cars.
BMW said there would be an expansion of development services out of Buchloe.
“We recognised the challenges facing the automotive industry early on and are now setting the right course for Alpina and for our family firm, Bovensiepen,” said Andreas Bovensiepen, co-managing director of Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen.
“We made a conscious decision not to sell Alpina to just any manufacturer, because BMW and Alpina have worked together and trusted one another for decades,” Bovensiepen said.
Alpina said the deal will have “implications” for employees at the Buchloe site. By the end of 2025, BMW intends to offer some Alpina employees new jobs at BMW or help arrange new employment with partner or supplier companies.
Though BMW enthusiasts, especially fans of the brand’s performance variants, will applaud this effort to safeguard the future of Alpina, it may ultimately lead to the erosion of the well-appreciated differences between BMW M Division performance models, which have recently become a lot more more expressive (some would say “brash”) and Alpina products, which, although purposeful, tend to be more restrained in their execution.
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