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Does Zagato Coupe Reveal a New Design Direction for BMW?

The end of the Bangle-Butt?

by on May.30, 2012

The BMW Zagato Coupe concept takes a tour of the Alps on its way to Villa d'Este.

Is this the end of the Bangle-Butt?

Since the re-launch of the flagship 7-Series sedan, a decade ago, BMW has adopted a very distinctive styling language perhaps best defined by the high rear deck critics quickly labeled the “Bangle-Butt,” a reference to the maker’s then-design chief Chris Bangle.

But is the Bavarian maker about to migrate to a distinctly different look?  That’s the question it has provoked with the unveiling of the new Zagato Coupe, a 2-seat concept that made its debut at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este.

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The annual event, staged along Italy’s exclusive Lake Como, is normally reserved for classic cars but BMW gets a little leeway as the events principal sponsor and used the opportunity to gauge reaction to what is clearly not just another German roadster.  The concept was designed by what is now the only surviving independent coachbuilder it Italy, a firm more traditionally associated with the likes of Aston Martin and Alfa Romeo.

But perhaps, a few industry observers are suggesting, BMW needed to reach outside to help it envision such a dramatic shift in styling strategy.


First Look: 2013 BMW 7-Series

More power, more technology and your own Attention Assistant.

by on May.25, 2012

BMW officially reveals the 2013 7-Series tonight.

As bells chime midnight along Lake Como the folks attending the annual concourse at tony Villa d’Este will get their first look at the updated 2013 BMW 7-Series.  Lucky for us had a chance to get an advance look at the new flagship sedan following a media ride-and-drive in Santa Barbara.

The redesigned 7-Series will go through a number of notable changes for the upcoming model-year, with exterior design revisions starting from the trademark kidney grille back, as well as significant revisions to the powertrain line-up.  The 2013 sedan will get more power, better mileage, plenty of new technology, and improved safety systems including something BMW has dubbed “Attention Assistant.”

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Even the classic and oft-debated iDrive system undergoes some big changes to match the improvements to the updated 7-Series infotainment system, which now features a super-high-resolution video display that even Apple might envy.


BMW Named World’s Most Valuable Auto Brand

Ford, fresh from debt upgrade, 7th among automakers.

by on May.23, 2012

That BMW "spinner" logo is worth billions.

What’s in a brand name?  If it’s the right one the answer is “plenty.”  According to a new survey by Interbrand, which annually tracks the value of major corporate brands, Apple’s brand is worth $182.9 billion.

Apple leads the list in Interbrand’s 2012 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands Study, followed by IBM, at $116 billion, and Google, at $107.9 billion.  But while they lagged at least an order of magnitude behind, a number of major automakers also landed on the list, starting with BMW, with an estimated brand value of $24.6 billion.  BMW was 23rd overall on the BrandZ list.

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“Brands are an insurance policy for businesses,” said Eileen Campbell, Global CEO of brand research company Millward Brown. “Despite a prolonged period of economic stress, political uncertainty and natural disasters that buffeted brands across many categories, the value of the world’s leading brands keeps rising across many categories, sustaining and nurturing businesses.”


Mercedes Reportedly Readying SLA Mini-Roadster

Could tackle Audi TT and reported BMW Z2.

by on Sep.06, 2011

A decade-and-some later, Mercedes may finally introduce a version of this SLA concept roadster.

Better late than never, apparently.  More than a decade after showing off its Vision SLA, a concept for a Miata-sized luxury roadster, Mercedes-Benz appears to be ready to bring it to market.

Industry sources indicate the soft-top would not only be the smallest 2-seater in the tri-star line-up but would also be the first to drive the front wheels when it comes to market, apparently as early as next year, if industry scuttlebutt proves accurate.

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That fits with comments made by Mercedes’ U.S. CEO Ernst Lieb, earlier this year, following the unveiling of the latest A-Class concept vehicle at the New York Auto Show.  At the time, Lieb not only confirmed a version of the A-Class will come to the States but hinted that Mercedes would probably have as many as four distinct body styles based on the new platform.

The smallest offering in the Mercedes line-up would go up against the likes of the Miata, or in the luxury segment, the Audi TT and the 1-Series roadster reportedly being developed by BMW.


First Drive: BMW Z4

Bigger and more expensive meets a downsizing marketplace.

by on Mar.20, 2009


It's hoped that the new roadster will generate more showroom traffic and sales for dealers.

On May 9, the BMW Z4 arrives in showrooms worldwide; it will undoubtedly get a warm welcome. Not only from fans of the Bavarian brand, but also from the dealers, as they expect the new roadster will generate a more showroom traffic than has been seen of late.

“February was another downer for the whole market,” says Jim O’Donnell, president of BMW of North America, in a statement after BMW group sales plunged 35% last month. In 2008 the parent company’s profits almost halved as the global economic crisis took hold.

U.S. dealers are relying on used cars sales to get by; they sold 27,000 in January and February. Of these 19,000 were certified pre-owned, while 17% of the cars came from leases that were ending.  The challenge in 2009 and 2010 will be big, as even more 3-year lease contracts expire that were initiated in the boom years of 2006 and 2007.

The new Z4 made its worldwide debut at the North International Auto Show in Detroit and had its European premiere at the Geneva show.

This week, the driving events for the new model started in Spain. In fact, you can hardly compare the 2010 Z4 with the outgoing one, as the roadster is completely new, according to BMW. First in keeping with traditional auto marketing, the size increases inside and out. The length is now 166.9 inches, and width and height are respectively 70.5 inches and 50.8 inches, while the wheelbase measures 98.3. Thanks to the larger width and higher roof line, the cockpit offers more space and 14% better all-around visibility than the outgoing model. The two-piece retractable aluminum hard top folds away with the push of a button in the center console in 20 seconds. With the top down, there is 10.9 cubic feet of luggage space (- 3.6 cubic feet.), enough to stow two golf bags, provided you have chosen the through-loading option.

The Z4 was styled by two women, exterior designer Juliane Brasi of BMW’s Munich studio and interior designer Nadya Arnaout, who works in DesignworksUSA in California. The two worked together in a program that BMW initiated, in order to see if the communication between the exterior and interior designers in an early stage could be beneficiary for the package. Both ladies could not have guessed that their designs would be chosen, which “was quite a coincidence”, said Anders Warming, head of exterior design BMW Automobiles. (more…)