For the love of money: BMW goes gaga with its lineup
Not sure if you’ve noticed or not, but in past 3 years Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (which to you, me and any other common man and woman is simply known as BMW) have let its product development and marketing teams loose and said “right, guys. Try and get as many customers as possible from as many backgrounds as possible.” They did, but their solution was a new model for each and every customer group there is.
To see what I’m on about, let’s look at the model line-up in 2009. They had the old establishment: 3-series, 5-series and 7-series. Then newer models: 1-series, 3-series and X cars (X1, X3, X5 and X6). So that’s a total of 9 different models. Since then and now, there has been quite an addition. Now there’s also 2-series, 2-series Active Tourer, 4-series, 4-series GranCoupe, X4, i3, i8, 5-series GT, 3-series GT, and, just recently, there’s an announcement of an X7. So that’s an addition of 9 models in just 5 years. The same number of new models as total number of models in previous 30 years. But let me tell you something; out of these 9 new models I see a proper use of only…3 models. Let me explain why, by looking at each of these models individually. Firstly, at those that I see sense in:
The 4-series should have already existed when its predecessor, 3-series coupe, still existed. The reason is because apart from technical stuff like engines, software and wheelbase, the coupe was completely different than the saloon: the design (it was way better looking than the saloon), interior, body style and dynamics. So I see their reason why they created the 4-series.
BMW has been longing for an SUV larger than X5. Audi has Q7, Volvo have XC90, Volkswagen have the Touareg. Only Bavarians haven’t got anything to put against them. They will do, but that is still in the future. In 2018, as BMW say.
It’s the first car of it’s kind. A hybrid sports car made entirely out of carbon fibre. Wonderful, relatively affordable combination of power and extreme economy in a car that trees are hugging when it is passing by. People who have been reviewing it praise it for its fantastic concept and for being mad without sacrificing practicality of an everyday car. Well, when I say practicality, I mean it doesn’t occupy the entire lane, doesn’t burn petrol like monstrous super cars and keeps your spine intact after every journey. In terms of storage capacity it is very much like any other sports car – poor. And whole of automotive community bows in front of BMW for doing something that many other automakers should learn to do – make a car that looks exactly like the concept car.
Now, I’ll look at some of those that I see no point in being made.
BMW 5-series GT
It’s nor a saloon, nor an estate. It looks like an inflated 5-series and, in terms of sales, it’s been doing quite poorly. In its first year they sold just over 720 examples. Even later they struggled to sell just over 2800 cars. Quite disappointing, knowing that their early plans were to make between 4000 and 8000 cars a year. Too ambitious? Or is it just not thought through properly in terms of marketing? The 5-series GT now costs £38 000 in its base form. A 5-series estate costs £32 000. So, in terms of marketing, this pricing decision seems to be rushed. Think about it: would you like to spend £6000 extra for a car that looks worse, is less practical and has less engine options than an actual estate car? And what kind of bogus customer segment did BMW aim at?
BMW 3-series GT
Same story. It costs £29 000. But here a lot of people might chose the class-leading BMW X3 SUV, which is just £1000 extra and does way more work than the 3-series GT.
BMW 4-series GranCoupe
I understand why the coupe got separated from the 3-series. But why did they ad 2 more doors to it? Isn’t it doing the reverse – re-create 3-series? Another potential blow into the finances of BMW? I just can’t be bothered to analyze it all again. It’s the same story as with previous two cars I talked about. It’s obvious that BMW are lost here.
X4 (and X6)
Have you ever thought “hmm, I do like X5 but it’s just too big. I want a car that has no room at the back, a boot in which even a chihuahua would feel claustrophobic and is more expensive”? No? Well BMW thought there are people like this. The X6 came first in 2008. It is basically an X5 (which is a magnificent car to drive and own. Even in its twin-turbo 3 litre diesel form this 2-ton machine gets to 60 mph in under 6 seconds) but with a sleeker bodywork. I can say that X6 is a pretty car, but for the price you pay (about £5000 extra than an equivalent X5) it’s useless. The room at the back is limited, the boot is tiny and the image of those who drive X6 bimmers is the same as it is for those who drive Bentley Continental GTs. Someone who has been bullied at a young age or has had too little attention lately. It’s a shame, of course, but I’ve seen people wrapping X6 in golden-chromed coating, painting them in matte black (which is a stupid decision. The driver only realizes that after the first rain, when smallest dirt is visible on the paintwork) and putting on hideously large chrome wheels. So I have a feeling that X4 will create the same image and has the same idea behind it – a car for those who think X3 is too big for them.
BMW 2-series Active Tourer
First of all, watch this clip.
CONGRATS, BMW, YOU HAVE JUST CREATED A ROVER. I was watching this video, screaming at the screen in anger. Because of people like this BMW have ruined their tradition for keeping all their cars rear-wheel-drive, part of their “ultimate driving machine” concept. They even released a series of ads like this:
But seems like they were lying. And it’s a huge shame because they were the only company left who had just rear or four-wheel-drive. Jaguar were others but, after Ford took them over to ruin them, they released the Mondeo-based X-type which changed it all, and not for good. So I have a feeling that BMW 2-series Active Tourer (even its name is ridiculous) will have the same faith between those loyal BMW customers. You might think “oh, hang on, there should be a lot of customers like those in the video”. Then let me leave you with this: Rover thought the same way as you…and look what happened to them. Of course, there were other reasons for it too, but the dominant reason for their failure was that they made cars that appealed only for those over-60. And seems like BMW, with their desperate search for customer bases with most money, are on their way to make the same mistake.