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BMW stems new model family introduction

Square 1: With all of BMW’s logical numerical names exhausted including M1, X1, Z1 and 1 Series through to sevens and eights, the car-maker is having to rethink its new model strategy.

More focus on intra-range hybrids and plug-ins as BMW completes 1 to 7 nomenclature

21 Oct 2016

BMW is planning to scale back its furious segment gap-filing strategy and focus instead on strengthening its various established model families with more variants including proliferating plug-in hybrids.

With the confirmation of the X2 small coupe SUV at the Paris motor show last month, BMW now has complete model linearity from 1 Series through to 7 Series passenger vehicles and X1 to the forthcoming X7 SUVs, prompting a different direction it says.

From now on, instead of seeking out ever smaller volume niche models, the German car-maker will concentrate on the existing range of sedans, wagons, coupes, convertibles and SUVs of all shapes and sizes, with a focus on bolstering choice and variety.

Speaking at the launch of the updated 1 Series and 2 Series ranges, BMW Group Australia head of product planning Shawn Ticehurst said the tidal wave of new models would recede in favour of more diversity within the existing line-up.

“You’ve obviously seen over the last few years a lot of additions to the range,” he said. “Don’t expect to see that amount over the next few years.

“Go back to our range 10 years ago and look what’s been added. It’s been big growth.”

Globally, BMW is a leader in the introduction of luxury plug-in hybrid models and has already introduced two models for Australia – the 330e and X5 xDrive40e – in addition to the i8 and i3, and Mr Ticehurst said the company would substitute model family introductions with more PHEVs.

“The roll-out you’ll see now in new models will be things like more plug-in hybrids.”

By 2020 corporate average emissions for each car-maker will have to meet strict 95g/km standards and Mr Ticehurst highlighted the scale of the challenge with the current BMW portfolio.

“If we had to achieve that right now with only combustion engine cars, we would have to be importing and selling 116d, and that would have to be our range.

“These emissions standards are real and they are coming. That’s where a lot growth is going to be – building cars that can meet these very real targets.”

For comparison, BMW’s i3 range extender compact hatchback with plug-in charging produces an average of 13g of CO2 per kilometre, while the mighty turbo V8-powered X5 xDriveM pumps out a heavy 258g/km.

In addition to the i3 and i8 pair, BMW has confirmed that another i-car is on the way before 2020 and Australia is about to get a plug-in version of the 7 Series luxury upper-large sedan as well as an electrified next-gen 5 Series next year, but the range beyond that is less clear.

Whatever lies in store for BMW’s greener line-up, Mr Ticehurst said the future line-up would meet the strict emissions standards without compromising the BMW mantra of driving pleasure.

“As car enthusiasts, we don’t have to be scared of the future. There’s still going to be some exciting stuff out there,” he said.

While the “logical” numerical gaps have now been filled, there a few speculative models that offer opportunities for BMW to introduce a handful of new or resurrected families if it is not ready to completely give up the habits of recent years.

A revenant 8 Series large sports coupe is one such possibility that could spawn a sedan, Gran Coupe, convertible or even X8 that could take the shape of a coupe SUV based on the confirmed X7 that will roll on the 7 series platform.

The small-sportscar segment also offers potential with Z1, Z3, Z4 and Z8 standing as the only occupied numbers to date. A Z2 could slip into the range as a lightweight sporty offering to do battle with the Mazda MX-5, while anything upward of a Z5 could look after the larger end of the two-seater market.

Finally, BMW has not ruled our breaching territory beyond the figure 8, leaving the door open for any number of large passenger and SUV models.

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