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Proliferation of BMW Models

Discussion in 'Roundel Magazine' started by tbalutis, Mar 25, 2014.

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    Nice article by Scott Blazey in the online Roundel this week. It recited a good historical account of BMW after each of the World wars and how it recovered.

    Trouble is that now it resembles GM, Ford and Chrysler just prior to their troubles, escapes from oblivion, and their lessons learned the hard way. Gee, where can I find a new Saturn, or Pontiac, or Oldsmobile or Mercury or Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto or Edsel? LOL at the Hummer, what a waste of $1B+ development. Buick is really only kept alive by its success in China, but they do try to come out with a serious performance model every 10 or 20 years.

    Is this the fate of BMW during the next global financial crisis? I sure hope not, I've already had to switch my brand preference three times during my life while my favorites went bust.

    Message to BMW management: you are probably already overextended. Get real, soon. Some of the models in you lineup are dogs, others are suitable for consumers who don't understand the first thing about what this brand really means. They are there for the social image and that is about it. They are better off in a Cadillac or Chrysler 200 or MBZ. And lastly, I am absolutely positive the German taxpayers will not stand for a government bailout.
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    Scott makes an article out of reciting BMW history but convenient to his premise he glosses over the fact that when Quandt invested in BMW it was because the existing board had cooked the books to show the entire development cost of the 700 in one fiscal year to intentionally make the company look insolvent. Quandt invested in a strong company with promising models already in the pipeline or, in the case of the 700, models with pre-ordered units at a level that would sustain the company. The new class cars were offered in no more than 1500, 1600, 1800, 1800ti/SA, 2000, 2000ti, and 2000tii and never all at the same time. In the U.S. we got only the 1600, 1800, and 2000, and those only in pitifully small quantity. Even when BMW started rolling we had only the 1600-2, 2002, 2800, 2800Cs here in the USA. Sure there were other model variations in other years but nothing like the proliferation we have today. The first model BMW ever built that hit the 1,000,000 level of production (E21) was only sold in the USA in one 2-door model with one engine in any given year. Now we have a 2-door and 4-door 4-series, in addition to the 4-door 3-series.

    But what really makes me mad about BMW's model proliferation, and why I think it shows they've lost their way, is that as of this month you can no longer order a U.S. spec 5-series BMW with a manual transmission (other than an M5 and that's a US-only model which requires a whole separate story). Sure you can order some eighteen different 6-series models, but you can't order a 535i with a stick or a 550i with a stick. You've never been able to order a U.S. spec F30 328i xDrive with a stick, sedan or wagon. Worse, perhaps, you've never been able to order an F10 5-series in a wagon for the U.S. but you can order four different versions of the 5-series GT, which no one seems to want. And those 2-series active-this and front-wheel-drive-thats to which Scott refers are not just for the Chinese market. They're coming here.

    BMW can certainly do whatever they want. And they usually do. But don't tell me it's trying to offer something for everyone when the reality is that it's abandoning the customer base that brought it to the dance. How can they justify three body-styles of 6-series but not offer a stick-shift in a 535i? Even if the take level is small, I find it inexcusable. It's not even a matter of cost since all compliance is now self-certified by the manufacturer.

    Years ago BMW said they were abandoning the E36/5 Kompact (318ti) for the USA because you can't sell up-scale hatches in the USA. And yet in its last full year on-sale in the USA, the 318ti outsold the 3-series Touring and the 5-series Touring combined. And don't even get me started on how to categorize a MINI.

    I was at the Zentrum in Greenville last week and the gift shop displayed a 1-series 5-door scale model—a model of a car we can't even buy in the USA. And yet we'll be able to buy an X4 soon. Another in a long line of models that seem to be the answer to a question no one asked.

    So, proliferate all you want, BMW. Just offer us everything we want here in the USA if you're going to offer it everywhere else. I'd like an M235i in race-spec, just like the European version, but I'd like mine with a six-speed manual. Yeah, that's right; the race-ready M235i track version comes only with an 8-speed Steptronic tranny! Insert bang-head emoticon here.
    ophale and MGarrison like this.

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