BMW: the next five years
BMW today held a press conference where it outlined what chairman Dr Norbert Reithofer called ‘a fundamental strategic realignment’ of the brand. It’s not as drastic as that sounds, but BMW is having a product shake-up to make sure it stays ahead of the game (read Audi on the warpath and a rejuvenated Mercedes). And part of this shake-up involves expanding its current model line-up, while ruling out any acquisitions of other brands. In other words new Minis, BMWs and Rolls-Royces are on the way.
So what exactly is on the way?
BMW has planned ahead as far as 2020, but only confirmed the cars that will be in production by 2012. That means within five years we will see a Mini SUV. There'll also be a Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe based on the 101EX (above), and a baby Rolls too. Under the BMW brand we will see an X1 SUV, a four-door Gran Turismo based on the Concept CS, and a PAS. No, not power-assisted steering, but a Progressive Activity Sedan – and we’ve already scooped it. Together that means BMW hopes sales will break the 1.8 million per year by 2012. That of course means production expansion, so BMW’s Spartanburg plant will expand to 240,000 units and Mini’s Oxford Plant will be able to churn out 260,000 cars.
So BMW won’t buy Volvo then?
Nope. Reithofer said that BMW had evaluated the acquisition of another brand but nothing fitted with its vision. Nevertheless Reithofer also said that ‘in principle, we will keep acquisitions on our agenda’. That’s why BMW recently bought Husqvarna as part of their aim to double motorcycle sales to 150,000 units per year by 2012. BMW is eyeing the BRIC markets (Brazil, Russia, India and China) for expansion, with China and Russia holding the most potential for growth, officials said.
So why has all this happened?
Money. BMW has enjoyed unprecedented increases in its sales recently, despite Chris Bangle's controversial ‘flame surfacing’. But profits have actually been slipping recently, so BMW has been forced to do something about it to restore faith in the blue and white propellor. And combined with all sorts of issues like the rising cost of raw materials and increasing environmental concerns, BMW has had this major rethink. Bring on 2012.