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BMW Aims to Redefine “The Ultimate Driving Machine”

But do hybrids, battery-cars and autonomous vehicles fit the brand?

by on Aug.31, 2015

BMW's Ian Robertson is betting technology won't turn off the brand's traditional fans.

Can you lay claim to building “the ultimate driving machine” if your fleet is filled with autonomous vehicles powered by plug-in hybrid and pure battery-electric drivetrains? That’s the very real question facing BMW.

The Bavarian maker’s sixth-generation 7-Series sedan comes as close to hands-free driving as anything on the road, and company officials promise they’re ready to push things further if regulators give them the go. The 2016 7-Series, meanwhile, will add a new plug-in model next year, with the technology set to roll out on a variety of other models over the next several years.

Driving Passion!

“This is the flagship,” said Ian Robertson, the BMW board member in charge of global marketing, during a New York media drive of the new 750i sedan. “This is the vehicle that brings the latest innovations that will be spread through the rest of our line-up in the coming years.”

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First Drive: 2016 BMW 7-Series

A techie’s dream car.

by on Aug.28, 2015

The new 2016 BMW 7-Series will come to the U.S. only in long-wheelbase form.

The value of a luxury car has traditionally been measured by the pound and feet, by the size and number of cylinders of its engine and, of course, by the number of trees and cowhides used to complete its passenger compartment. But the old measurements have begun to change, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the sixth-generation BMW 7-Series.

True, with U.S. buyers now set to get only the long-wheelbase version, it’s bigger than ever. But the new sedan also gets lighter, thanks to the extensive use of carbon fiber, aluminum and ultra-high-strength steel. It uses a twin-turbo engine to punch out incredible amounts of power from a relatively modest 4.4-liter V-8. And while there’s more leather and wood than ever – some of it barely apparent to passengers – BMW expects buyers to be drawn to the incredible array of technologies that have increasingly come to define the best luxury vehicles.

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In developing the 2016 7-Series, BMW engineers intentionally set out to one-up the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the latest version having become the current, high-tech automotive benchmark. And, at least in terms of the number and range of new features the 7-Series offers, it would seem they’ve succeeded. From a comfort and safety standpoint, never mind the manufacturing side, the new BMW 750i is a high-tech showcase.

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Consumers Increasingly Frustrated, Dissatisfied by Recalls

Satisfaction levels falls to lowest level in over a decade.

by on Aug.25, 2015

More and more Americans are finding automotive recall notices in their mailboxes.

Have you received a recall for your car, truck or crossover? Maybe several? If so, chances are you’re growing frustrated and dissatisfied as a result.

A new study finds that, despite an overall increase in quality, the epidemic of recalls that reached an all-time record of 64 million vehicles last year has left Americans less happy with the cars and trucks they drive than at any time in more than a decade. And with the spate of new recalls showing little sign of slowing, the situation isn’t likely to improve anytime soon.

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“While it is true that all cars are now much better than they were 10 to 20 years ago, it is alarming that so many of them have quality problems,” said Claes Fornell, chairman and found of the American Consumer Satisfaction Index.

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Apple Booking Track Time in California

Tech giant inked deal to use clandestine track.

by on Aug.17, 2015

Apple's Jeff Williams suggested that the company may be looking at moving into the auto industry with more than its CarPlay infotainment system.

The rumor mill continues churning when it comes to Apple and the company’s alleged efforts to build its own car, and now it’s suggesting the maker is looking to book track time for “Project Titan.”

Project Titan is reportedly the code name for the company’s electric vehicle program.

What a Concept!

According to The Guardian, the Cupertino, California-based maker of computers and consumer electronics has been in discussions with the executives at GoMentum, a highly secure automotive testing facility, to use the facility. (more…)

BMW Unveils New M4 GTS Concept

Production model will get performance boost from new water-injection system.

by on Aug.14, 2015

The new M4 GTS is intended to deliver supercar performance both on and off the track.

BMW’s new M4 GTS is all wet. Well, its engine will be, the hyper-performance version of the new M4 coupe getting the world’s first production water-injection system as a way to deliver a sharp boost in power.

Shown during a Pebble Beach preview in a Frozen Dark Grey matte finish, the new M4 is intended to deliver supercar performance both on and off the track. It also will serve as a showcase for some significant new technologies, including not only the water-injection system but its distinctive organic LED “blade” lighting.

At the Cutting Edge!

“This car is heavily inspired by motor racing,” declared Carsten Pries, head of production management for BMW, as he pulled off the covers. But while it is “designed for track use, it is also street-legal.” (more…)

BMW Going Plug-In Hybrid With Next M3

System to provide big performance boost – and 20 miles EV range.

by on Aug.14, 2015

The 2015 BMW M3. The next version will give its Twin Power engine a hybrid boost.

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Aiming to give its iconic performance model a boost while also making it more environmentally friendly, BMW will migrate to a plug-in hybrid powertrain when the next version of its M3 sedan comes to market, several senior company officials have revealed.

The new system draws from both the German maker’s motorsports experience as well as some of the lessons it has learned since launching the BMW i battery-car sub-brand several years ago. Versions of the new drivetrain are expected to be used on a wide range of additional BMW models, and could be offered in both rear- and electric all-wheel-drive configurations.

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“We have a lot to learn from BMW i,” a senior executive who has worked on both the battery brand and on BMW M, told TheDetroitBureau.com. He noted that until recently, the maker saw it as one of the company’s “bookends,” a counterpoint to BMW M. But now the maker is ways the two can be brought closer together.

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Your Next BMW Could Spot the Red Light Before You Do

EnLighten feature could save time, fuel, and reduce crashes.

by on Aug.10, 2015

BMW's version of EnLighten will show you what the next light is, and how fast to drive to get there before it changes.

If you’ve ever gotten stuck behind one red light after another during your daily commute, you’ll likely appreciate a new feature BMW has developed that could save you time, gas and a fair bit of frustration.

The maker is working with an Oregon tech start-up to give its drivers an advanced alert letting them know when the next stoplight is about to go green or red, and suggest the best speed to avoid a wait.

Give Us the Green Light!

In a growing number of cities, stoplights are being linked up in a regional network. They operate in sequence and may even adjust their timing to improve traffic flow. The EnLighten app, developed by Connected Signals, of Eugene, Oregon, can tap into those urban networks and determine when you’re approaching a light using a smartphone’s GPS feature. The system can then figure out whether the light is going to be red or green.

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BMW Matriarch Johanna Quandt Dead at 89

Her passing could raise challenges for Bavarian automaker.

by on Aug.07, 2015

Johanna Quandt in 2012.

Johanna Quandt, who oversaw a controlling stake in BMW AG, has died at the age of 89. Considered one of the 100 wealthiest people on the planet – and among the richest women – her passing could raise challenges for the Bavarian automaker.

The daughter of one of the Nazi regime’s most powerful industrialists, the Quandt family emerged largely unscathed from World War II, turning the money it made into a 46.7% stake in BMW – the rest now publicly traded. Two of her children, both members of the maker’s supervisory board, will inherit the stake that was directly in the hands of their long-widowed mother.

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In a statement, former BMW Chairman Norbert Reithofer described Quandt as warm and uncomplicated, adding that, “She actively led the development of BMW for many years.”

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BMW May Add More Battery-Cars

New i5 crossover and larger SUV among options.

by on Aug.07, 2015

BMW is reportedly adding a new i3 battery crossover that would be similar in size to the current X3.

BMW’s CEO has added more evidence to suggest the Bavarian maker will expand its battery-based sub-brand, BMW i. While Chief Executive Harald Krueger didn’t offer specifics, a new electrified crossover is believed to be one of the options under development.

Meanwhile, sources suggest that BMW may add a big battery-electric SUV to its main brand in a direct challenge to the Tesla Model X sedan due to debut in the coming weeks. Separately, the German company is said to be reexamining the opportunities of working with Apple on the new high-tech vehicle the Silicon Valley powerhouse reportedly wants to develop.

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“Between the i3 and the i8, there is space if you look at it from the number point of view,” Harald Krueger said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

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BMW Profits Fall as China Auto Sales Soften

Luxury marque hit by weakening market.

by on Aug.04, 2015

BMW's quarterly earnings took a hit as auto sales in China have slowed.

BMW AG, which had enjoyed rapid growth in China in recent years, demonstrated the potential down side of its Chinese partnerships as earnings dropped during the April to June quarter as the Chinese automotive market began to weaken.

“There have been increasing signs of more moderate growth in the Chinese auto market for several months now,” noted Friedrich Eichiner, BMW’s finance chief.

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“The market is normalizing faster than originally forecast. The second quarter saw increased competition across the industry – while the volatility of the Chinese stock market has also weakened consumer confidence,” he said. (more…)