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Frankfurt show: No hypercar for BMW M

To be Frank: BMW CEO Frank van Meel has ruled out developing an M-only mode separate from its BMW parent company models.

BMW M will not follow AMG in developing its own bespoke model

BMW logo18 Sep 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON in Frankfurt

BMW’S M performance division chief executive Frank van Meel says the company has no plans to produce a standalone ‘M’ model that is not based on an existing BMW chassis, ruling out a rival to the Mercedes-AMG GT or its freshly revealed Project One hypercar.

Rival Mercedes-Benz ripped the covers off its Formula One-derived 740kW-plus Project One that is limited to just 275 units globally – eight of which have already been snapped up by wealthy Australian buyers – that will take on hypercars such as the McLaren BP23 and Aston Martin Valkyrie.

However, Mr van Meel told Australian journalists at M headquarters in Munich last week that he was not interested in developing a rival for Mercedes’ tarmac-munching monster.

Why? “Because we are trying to make cars for customers and trying to reach as many customers as possible,” Mr van Meel said. “To build a car for 200 people would not be our main target. Of course, it is a dream for every engineer to do such a thing – we are always dreaming about something like that.

“But to be honest, instead of having one flagship, a very small but a very highlighted flagship, we would rather have an armada of very fast vessels to attack a broader range of possible customer groups.”

Mercedes’ AMG performance arm has previously developed its own bespoke chassis that is unrelated to any other Benz models in its Mercedes-AMG GT sportscar line-up that uses an AMG-built 4.0-litre biturbo V8 engine producing as much as 430kW/700Nm.

When asked if M would consider producing its own bespoke chassis that is separate from its BMW donor models, Mr van Meel said the M team could technically do this, but it was not on the agenda.

“It could be possible, yes, because we do have the engineering power. But on the other hand if you look at the tradition of M, we came from being the first company picking a series production car and making a high-performance car out of that. And it was copied by a lot of companies. Also AMG.

“And that is what we stand for and what we grew with and what is expected with us. It is always the question, ‘Can you do this or that because someone else has this or that?’ I don’t see the need for M to make such a very niche product.

“Because I think also, M is the ultimate driving machine and I don’t need something to make clear we are the ultimate driving machine. We have M2 to X6 M to say ultimate driving machine. I don’t need a halo car to bring out the message.”

He added that a successor to the iconic M1 from the late 1970s was also not on the agenda as the company focuses on its M and M Performance range.

“I’d really love to do another M1 but, again, it is first things first. We are still working on broadening our product portfolio and bringing out special models and … we have many other things to do right now.”

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