Fans of BMW‘s high-performance M Division (and who isn’t) have something big to look forward to: brand expansion far and beyond what we already know in the lineup according to BMW American CEO Ludwig Willisch.
According to Willisch, who is the former M Division head, the flagship luxo-barge 7 Series that to date has been without M Division molestation is going to get dirty soon — in a very good way. The Detroit Bureau reports that he expects the performance sub-brand to evolve its once-limited lineup to grow beyond its current reach to offer more than half the marque’s models.
Until recently, the idea of an M7 would have been unthinkable, probably because the 7 Series made its name on luxury, refinement and mature style rather than the rowdy gentleman M5 or muscly M3. As is the case with a number of new cars on the market, not the least of which being Lexus‘ new Toyota Avalon-based ES, demand for longer-wheelbase cars is growing. That is due in no small part to Chinese demand. Customers in that market show a strong preference toward cars that can be used as a chauffer vehicle, which is why the longer-wheelbase Avalon replaced the Camry.
The same theory can apply to why BMW might considering an M7. It’s a sure bet that an M version of the flagship sedan would be a track-ready performer, but with that kind of power it might be able to compete with more upmarket luxury sedans like Mercedes‘ AMG S-Class.
It also sounds like the 3 Series is also going to get extensive carbon fiber treatment in the future, offering a stronger and lighter-weight structure. A move like that could position the more performance-oriented 335i to improve its fuel economy and best the Mercedes C350 in terms of performance. Carbon fiber would make its way into more vehicles today were it not for the high production cost. That expense comes mainly from the long production process. A carbon fiber panel takes significantly longer to make than pressed metal panels, and requires piece-by-piece attention.
To cope with that, BMW is working on developing its own carbon fiber in an attempt to cut those costs down. Willisch said BMW is making strides toward streamlining an in-house production process, but it’s still likely to be a while before anything significant occurs. Still, he said the company is making lightweight components a priority, which is goo news for the brand, especially given how dramatically fuel consumption can be improved by shedding pounds.
[Source: The Detroit Bureau]