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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.”


BMW Launching New Brand in China

But Zhi Nuo brand might eventually go global.

by on Apr.08, 2013

According to some reports, BMW may use the X1 as its first product for the new Zhi Nuo brand.

BMW is the latest global automaker to announce plans to create a special sub-brand for the Chinese market – but the German luxury giant is also eyeing its start-up as a possible source of exports.

We should hear more about the new Zhi Nuo brand at the Shanghai Auto Show later this month. BMW and its Chinese partner Brilliance Automotive are expected to introduced their first new model there, a version of the old 3-Series.

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Since the Chinese automotive market began opening up a dozen years ago, it has been flooded by a Who’s-Who of foreign manufacturers. In turn, domestic makers have struggled to hang on, most of the successful ones by entering into joint ventures required by law of global manufacturers.  But under pressure from the government, these JV operations have begun creating special local brands of their own.


AWD Gave BMW Traction to Hit Sales Record

All-wheel to be offered on growing range of future products.

by on Jan.18, 2013

The arrival of the new 328i xDrive gave BMW traction to push past rival Mercedes last year.

If you’re hoping to sell a luxury car in the populous New York metropolitan these days, you better hope it has all-wheel drive.  Indeed, in a growing portion of the country, even in Sunbelt states, AWD has become a must.  And in snow country, dealers report a conventional, rear-drive model like the BMW 3-Series might sit for months on the lot unsold.

No wonder the Bavarian maker’s dealers were so anxious to get the new all-wheel version of the latest 3-Series, which finally reached U.S. showrooms last month, said Ian Robertson, the BMW AG board member in charge of global sales.


“We had a seven-month backlog of orders for the 3-Series with all-wheel drive,” he said. “Those cars were delivered in December,” he said, noting BMW had delayed the introduction of the all-wheel-drive version of the 3-Series.


Brazilian Market a Booming Free-for-All

Flood of new product at Sao Paulo Motor Show underscores intense competition.

by on Oct.23, 2012

The more striking designs appearing at the 2012 Sao Paulo Motor Show - Nissan's Extrem concept shown here - reveal the intensifying competition in Brazil.

While the plan still needs final government approval, BMW is set to become the latest maker to open an automotive assembly plant in Brazil.  The new factory is expected to produce about 30,000 vehicles a year once it opens in 2014 in the southern state of Santa Catarina.

Brazil is a relative latecomer to booming Brazil which, depending on how you measure it, has become the world’s third or fourth-largest national automotive market.  But it’s by no means the only global automaker eyeing additional opportunities.  An even bigger Nissan factory, located near Rio, is also set to open in 2014.

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The pace of competition is readily apparent at this week’s Sao Paulo Auto Show in the Portugese-speaking nation’s biggest – and most traffic clogged city.  Virtually every major automaker, including the “usual suspects” from Europe, the U.S., Japan and South Korea, as well as an assortment of Chinese brands, are competing for the eye of Brazil’s rapidly expanding middle-class.


BMW Diverting Product from Europe to US

Maker hopes US can offset European sales slide.

by on Oct.18, 2012

Coming at you. BMW will divert more European-made vehicles -- such as the new 7-Series - to the US market in the months ahead.

Already locked in a bitter battle with key rivals for dominance in the North American market, don’t be surprised to see BMW launch even more aggressive marketing efforts in the final months of 2012 – and it will soon get the products it needs to maintain a position as number one in the U.S. luxury segment, it appears.

It’s a reversal of the maker’s recent strategy that had it actually holding back on U.S. product availability due to a weak dollar that made it more expensive to import European-made vehicles.

But that was before the economy of the European Union began to unravel.  And with countries like Greece, Spain and Italy in deep recession while even Germany has to retrench there’s significantly less demand for BMW’s blend of mid to high-end luxury products.


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As with competitors like Mercedes-Benz and Audi, BMW has had to adjust line rates in recent months to reflect downward demand. But it is now planning a different strategy. With the U.S. automotive market leading this country out of recession BMW thinks it can up shipments of European-made products to State-side showrooms, confirmed global marketing chief Ian Robertson.


Mini Exploring Carbon Fiber Applications with Rocketman Concept

Show car makes extensive use of weight-saving composites.

by on Mar.03, 2011

The Mini Rocketman concept uses a strong, super-light carbon fiber spaceframe.

Mini’s newest concept vehicle could help it rocket into the future by showing the brand the potential for ultra-lightweight carbon fiber.

The Mini Rocketman concept vehicle, unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show is nearly the smallest vehicle the British maker has ever come up with, just inches longer than the original Mini crafted by Sir Alex Issigonis a half century ago.  But it’s also a very different and much more modern vehicle, company officials stressed.

There is the high-tech infotainment system that has become the requisite on today’s show cars.  But perhaps more significantly, the Mini Rocketman uses a carbon spaceframe to keep the vehicle small, light and roomy.

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“It captures the spirit of originality” pioneered by Sir Alex, proclaimed Ian Robertson, the BMW AG Board Member who also supervises Mini sales and marketing, during the British marque’s Geneva news conference. (For more on the Mini Rocketman itself, Click Here.)

In a subsequent interview with TheDetroitBureau.com, Robertson emphasized the interest of both Mini and BMW in the use of carbon fiber.  The German parent company has, in fact, has “invested heavily” in recent years to improve the technology and expand its production.

The Lamborghini Aventador also goes with carbon fiber for its underlying monocoque.

The material “has a number of elements” that are attractive, including its tremendous strength – many times greater than steel, pound-for-pound – and light weight.  That’s particularly attractive for Mini, a brand that has put an emphasis on sustainability.

That said, Robertson cautioned that carbon fiber is still extremely expensive to produce, which may make it difficult to introduce in the relatively mainstream price segments where Mini competes.

Indeed, today, carbon fiber is largely limited to some of the most expensive products on the road, such as the all-new, $350,000 Lamborghini Aventador, which also was introduced at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show (Find out more – Click Here.) Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winklemann told TheDetroitBureau.com that cost considerations likely limit the use of carbon fiber on other Lamborghini products.

But the spate of research underway has some experts betting that carbon fiber can move down-market in the coming years.  Toyota, for example, has been exploring ways to use the company’s historical ties to the textile industry to “weave” carbon fiber, instead of using traditional hand-production processes.  And BMW is also making strides towards mass production.

What could drive demand for the material is the industry’s move into electrification.  Vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt carry 100s of pounds of lithium-ion batteries onboard, and carbon fiber, said BMW’s Robertson, may be needed “as a trade-off to offset heavy batteries. Carbon fiber,” he concluded, “has a significant role to play in the development of motor vehicles in the future.”