The Truth About Cars » BMW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 14 Jul 2014 16:00:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » BMW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/bmw/ BMW’s Southern Strategy Pays Off For All Involved http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmws-southern-strategy-pays-off-for-all-involved/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmws-southern-strategy-pays-off-for-all-involved/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 11:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865729 BMW Spartanburg

Twenty years ago, BMW began building vehicles at its first North American factory in Spartanburg, S.C., a move that has paid off well for the German automaker, both against its rivals Mercedes and Audi, and as an example for the industry as a whole.

Bloomberg reports the factory is the largest exporter of U.S.-made vehicles to global markets outside of North America, besting the Detroit Three and the state of Michigan’s collective automotive production efforts as its capacity prepares to jump 50 percent to 450,000 annually as the latest member of the X Series, the full-size seven-passenger X7, comes into production.

The success of the Spartanburg facility is built upon lower labor costs — U.S. labor is 47 percent cheaper than German labor — its work flexibility, and its access to the port of Charleston, I-85 and GSP International Airport. An additional inland port in Greer, S.C., new production techniques — such as using robots and humans on the same assembly step — and massive export increases as the result of an upcoming free-trade agreement between the United States and the European Union will likely add more fuel to the plant’s continued success.

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BMW 3, 4 Series To Get New Designations With New Engines http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-3-4-series-to-get-new-designations-with-new-engines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-3-4-series-to-get-new-designations-with-new-engines/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 13:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863305 3series_f30_1025x475_exterior_11

A handful of BMW 3 and 4 series models will receive new designations to go with their new engines when they arrive in U.S. showrooms beginning in 2016.

An ongoing forum post on Bimmerpost reports the following for the F3x models:

  • 4-cylinder B58 will have the 330i/430i designation, instead of 328i/428i
  • 6-cylinder B58 will use the 340i/440i designation, instead of 335i/435i
  • F30 PHEV will be dubbed the 330e, instead of 328e

The list continues to update, and has info only on U.S.-bound models.

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BMW: No M Badge For 4 Series Gran Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-no-m-badge-for-4-series-gran-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-no-m-badge-for-4-series-gran-coupe/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 10:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860745 bmw-4-series-m-sport

Those who were looking forward to a smaller version of BMW’s M6 Gran Coupe can stop holding their breath: the automaker is declining to produce the M4 Gran Coupe.

CarsGuide.com.au reports BMW’s M sales boss Jörg Bartels confirmed the decision not to proceed during the Australian launch of the new 3 and 4 series last week:

That is a negative. It was definitely considered, but there is no plan to build an M4 Gran Coupe. Part of the reason is expected production volume, but also the 4 Series Gran Coupe is built in a different factory to both the 3 Series (sedan) and 4 Series (coupe), so there is a lot of challenges there.

The M badge is set to grace both 3 and 4 series in their respective sedan and coupe configurations, as well as the M4 Convertible, while the 3 Series Gran Turismo — like the 5 Series version — will do without.

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BMW Brings New North American Plant To Mexico http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-brings-new-north-american-plant-to-mexico/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-brings-new-north-american-plant-to-mexico/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 11:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858569 BMW Harald Kruger + Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto

It’s official: BMW’s second North American assembly plant will be built in Mexico, with production to begin in 2019.

Autoblog reports the $1 billion USD plant will be located near San Luis Potosí, and will employ around 1,500 to produce up to 150,000 units per year, the majority of which will likely take auto trains north to the United States as noted by BMW Group board member Harald Krueger:

This decision underscores our commitment to the NAFTA region. We have been building BMW cars at our US plant in Spartanburg for the past 20 years. With a planned annual capacity of 150,000 units for the new plant in Mexico, the BMW Group will be even better positioned to take advantage of the growth potential in the entire region. The Americas are among the most important growth markets for the BMW Group. We are continuing our strategy of “production follows the market.”

As for what will be built, BMW remains silent on the subject. Early speculation points to 3 and 1 series production, as well as MINIs.

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Low-Cost Tesla EV To Use Steel To Hit A4, 3 Series Pricing Levels http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/low-cost-tesla-ev-to-use-steel-to-hit-a4-3-series-pricing-levels/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/low-cost-tesla-ev-to-use-steel-to-hit-a4-3-series-pricing-levels/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 11:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=857993 550x365xtesla-model-s-logo-550x365.jpg.pagespeed.ic.C2rTVvi0LG

Though Tesla’s low-cost EV won’t be able to put the E in between the S and the X, it will be able to meet its price target thanks an alloy swap in its construction.

Autocar reports steel instead of aluminum will make up the low-cost EV, which CEO Elon Musk stated will be 20 percent smaller than the Model S. The steel construction will likely be assembled through bonding and rivets, as well.

The use of steel will allow the new EV — expected sometime between late 2016 and early 2017 — to better compete against the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series on price, backed up by the reduced cost in battery production once the Gigafactory goes online at the same time as the low-cost Tesla arrives in showrooms.

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BMW Mexico Plant To Build 150,000 Annually http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-mexico-plant-to-build-150000-annually/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-mexico-plant-to-build-150000-annually/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=857249 2015-MINI-Countryman-Cooper-S-8

Though BMW may announce Thursday where in Mexico it will build its second North American plant, sources close to the matter said the plant will pump 150,000 units annually into auto trains bound for the United States.

Automotive News Europe also reports a Mexican government official claimed the new plant would come with a €1 billion ($1.36 billion USD) investment, and may either be located in the state of Hidalgo just north of Mexico City, or in San Luis Potosi in central Mexico.

The plant — following on the heels of a new Daimler-Nissan small-car factory to be built in Aguacalientes, as well as an Audi factory in San Jose Chiapa — will likely be used to build MINIs and the FWD 1 Series, with localized 3 Series assembly also speculated based on the automaker’s potential need to better compete against the U.S.-assembled Mercedes C-Class on price.

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BMW M235i Bests Corvette, 911 In Consumer Reports Road Testing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-m235i-bests-corvette-911-in-consumer-reports-road-testing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-m235i-bests-corvette-911-in-consumer-reports-road-testing/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=855833 BMW M235i HR 04

BMW’s M235i has earned the highest marks ever bestowed upon the German automaker’s lineup from Consumer Reports, while also besting the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette in road tests whose results were recently released online.

Bloomberg reports the coupe earned a 98 out of 100 in its road test, falling one point short of the all-time leaders, the Tesla Model S and Lexus LS460L. The 911 and Corvette, packing more firepower with less comfort than the M235i, earned 95 and 92 out of 100 in their respective road tests.

Deputy editor Jon Linkov proclaimed the M235i a “dual-purpose car” that anyone “could drive to work every day of the week” without leaving the driver in pain, followed by a weekend at the track taking on the likes of the 911 and Corvette. He added that this particular BMW “has almost a direct lineage” to BMWs of the past that lived up to the marketing of “Ultimate Driving Machine.”

Neither of the trio were recommended by the publication, however, as the BMW and the Corvette were too new for reliability reports, while the 911 has below average reliability according to those surveyed.

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BMW To Announce Second North American Factory Before Summer Break http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-to-announce-second-north-american-factory-before-summer-break/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-to-announce-second-north-american-factory-before-summer-break/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=852977 2012_BMW_328i_sedan_--_2012_DC_1

Still mulling over where to build a second North American factory, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer stated his company would have an answer before the automaker goes on summer break.

Automotive News Europe reports the automaker is considering countries who have signed the North American Free Trade Agreement, including Canada, United States and Mexico, for a factory where it may build the 3 and 1 series, as well as MINIs.

BMW is doing this in order to properly battle Teutonic competitors Audi and Mercedes, both of whom have or will have factories in place to meet demand, as well as better handle currency challenges by producing popular vehicles in the same market they are bought. All three are also battling it out on record deliveries for 2014, with China and the U.S. as the battleground.

Meanwhile, BMW is spending $1 billion to expand its Spartanburg, S.C. plant to 50 percent increased production capacity by 2016, when the full-size X7 will be among the 450,000 X Series SUVs to leave the line annually. The outgoing record holder in Dingolfing, Germany produced 342,000 3, 5, 6 and 7 series models in 2013.

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Rolls-Royce SUV To Arrive In 2018 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/rolls-royce-suv-to-arrive-in-2018/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/rolls-royce-suv-to-arrive-in-2018/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=850810 SCA665C50EUX84409

Just like Volkswagen’s Bentley and Audi’s Lamborghini, BMW’s Rolls-Royce is entering the premium SUV game, ready to ferry oil-rich princes and the hardest of Wall Street’s power lords to their appointed rounds.

Autobild reports the premium SUV — currently dubbed the Cullinan, whose namesake comes from the 3,000-carat diamond — will debut in 2018, and will be priced between the Ghost and the Phantom at €275,000 ($340,000 USD).

Power for the aluminum SUV is expected to come from 6.6-liter V12, which may be directed through the all-wheel drive system found in the BMW 7 Series to the wheel/tire combo from the upcoming X7. A PHEV variant of the Cullinan is also in consideration.

As for where the SUV will turn up, the United States and the Middle East are potential markets.

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Reader Review: BMW 120d http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-review-bmw-120d/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-review-bmw-120d/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2014 12:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=840642 1280px-BMW_118i_Urban_Line_(F20)_–_Heckansicht,_10._März_2012,_Düsseldorf

Reader Antoun sends us this review of a BMW 120d rental car from his most recent trip to Europe. 

The BMW 120d is right at the bullseye of unrequited desire for – well, you, assuming you’re a compulsive reader of car blogs, where the irrationality of the wagon-on-stilts crossover craze and needlessly-complicated hybrid technology are well-worn topics. On paper, the 120d is the best of both worlds. To the performance junkie, it could be a sports car: rear-wheel drive, a touch over 3100 lbs of curb weight, and a turbo motor that kicks out 184 horsepower (measured in the Euro way, optimistic by US standards) and – get this – 280 ft/lbs of torque. Best of all, it can still be ordered with a 6-speed manual transmission and a real clutch pedal.

The 120d is also a practical five-door daily driver, with a reasonably sized and reasonably square cargo area accessible through a usefully yawning hatchback. At 170.2 inches long, it’s 4 inches shorter than an E36 3-series and a whole foot shorter than the current 3-Series.

So, is it the epiphany that internet forum-dwellers expect from the spec sheet? I spent ten days using a rental 120d for a variety of tasks, including carrying friends, family, and lots of luggage back and forth from train station to hotel. Several of our guests were of the occasional-traveler variety, with all of the ill-advised and oversize luggage choices that implies. We never ran out of room. A US-spec 1-series coupe would have had us running for a roof rack and ratchet straps.

I also spent time schlepping up the A1 highway between Rome and Florence with a fair number of detours to Tuscan towns on Italian country roads.

The local Italian drivers seem to always have their personal mannetinos set to “corsa” – Italian driving has less in common with an American commute than with the chaotic 3rd hour of a 24 Hours of Lemons race. In that context, the 120d’s chassis was a welcome dance partner, nice enough to make enthusiasts of 1990s BMWs quit kvetching. On both highways and bumpier secondary roads, the ride had the suppleness you would expect of a much larger car. Importantly, this car came with Bridgestone Turanza 300ER tires, which in this application are not of the run-flat variety. This takes a lot of the high-frequency jitteriness out of the ride when compared to the US-spec 3-series. It rolls much less than you’d expect given the compliant ride, and never seemed to run out of suspension travel. The car will hold a line through corners without getting unsettled by bumps, camber changes, or changes of elevation. It’s adjustable, albeit within narrow limits: the rear end will wiggle a bit if you are aggressive with the gas pedal in 1st or 2nd gear, but it never seems to step out at a massive angle despite all that torque. Overly-aggressive entry speeds will bring understeer, but the front tires never wash out to the “uh-oh” point, even with the stability control turned fully off.

What the 120d lacks is ultimate grip. Those Bridgestones are only 205/55-16s and designed for low rolling resistance – so if you’re looking for a mini-M3 this isn’t quite it. But the predictability of the chassis setup makes it a great tool for covering unfamiliar ground quickly, and the process is definitely fun.

The brakes – very important in Roman traffic! – are also fantastic. They have lots of feel, are easy to modulate, and able to brake beyond the limits of tire grip. On mountain roads of the variety that car commercials sell you, we never felt fade, even when loaded up with 2 people and lots of luggage.

One downside is the steering. The steering has moved to an electromechanical system with this generation of 1-series, but – surprise! – feedback is not really the issue. Yes, it lacks the kick and fizz of an E90’s wheel, but it gives more feedback than the current 3-Series and a lot more than an Audi A3 or A4. The real issue here is that the steering is weirdly non-linear: dead right on center, then responsive, then slower toward the end of the lock. The net effect is that it’s hard to steer smoothly, particularly into longer faster bends. When driving an unfamiliar car in the cut-and-thrust of Roman ring road traffic, hilarity and head-tossing ensue.

The interior was very familiar to those who have ridden in a modern BMW. Finely-grained plastics and rubber-coated knobs and buttons are all nice to touch. The cloth seats were ridiculously good, as comfortable as the more-bolstered Sport seats that BMW fits. For me, the seats fitted to non-Sport-package US BMWs usually don’t have a long enough bottom cushion to be supportive, but these seats had no such problems. 3- and 4-hour stints behind the wheel were pain-free.

So the car has a lot of the known BMW virtues, with a bit more old-skool BMW-ness than you might expect. What about that forbidden-fruit motor, so tempting to car guys trapped in the Garden of CUVs? It’s a turbo 4 with all the modern electronics that BMW can put an InterCapped marketing moniker on (TwinPower, EfficientDynamics, etc). Whoever tuned the exhaust deserves a promotion: from inside the car you hear a silky and deep-throated thrum that sounds nothing like the Cummins in a half-ton truck. Fans of Volvo red-block motors and 5-cylinder Audis will find this engine sounds familiar. More importantly, it felt at least as smooth, and maybe smoother, than the Audi TDIs that are this car’s natural showroom rival. With the windows rolled down you hear somewhat more rackety diesel noises, but in a world where direct-injection gas motors are fairly clickety-clackety, this engine sounds good.

The upside to this motor is the massive torque, and the price you pay for it is the narrow powerband. It has some turbo lag below about 1400 RPM, and runs out of breath noticeably at 4500 before redlining at 5500. In between – which, let’s face it, is where most real-world driving happens – the car feels revvy and eager. It’s got enough torque to lug around in 3rd gear all day long without feeling flat-footed. BMW says it goes from 0-60 in 7.2 seconds, and I don’t doubt it, but in the midrange it feels more like a low-6-second car. The disappointment here is that right at the point on the tach where you expect a BMW to take a deep breath and start charging harder, in the 120d it’s time to upshift.

And since you’re using that gearshift often enough to star in your own personal remake of BJ and the Bear, you will quickly come to find that it’s engineered for low NVH rather than a positive feel. The side-to-side action is well-sprung and pleasantly mechanical, but sliding the lever forward or back into gear is uncomfortably rubbery. There’s at least a half-inch of additional squishy action after the lever is actually in a gear. It takes some of the tactile joy out of driving the car fast on twisty roads. But the clutch takeup is perfect and the shift action is nothing a short-shift kit couldn’t fix. I’d still choose the manual over an automatic.

Our rental was the Unique trim level. A little irony, that: there’s nothing unique about yet another silver BMW with a black interior. Apparently this trim level gives you additional electronic and power toys (USB and phone jack input, Bluetooth, power seats) without going all the way to the expensive navigation system. iDrive is there, now with slightly flashier graphics and less infuriating user interface. If you like your cars to have a blinky screen on the dash, then you’ll probably think this one is okay, but not quite as great as a full-lux Audi MMI. If you’re old enough that your perception of “luxury” has nothing to do with accessibility to your Twitter feed, then this car’s interface will be perfectly adequate.

After nearly 1000 miles, I came to think that this car would be a perfect daily driver, in a way that our US-market 1-series, with its less practical coupe-only body style, wouldn’t be for most people. Prices are notoriously difficult to compare across continents, but in the UK it’s about 15% cheaper than an X1 crossover with the same engine. It gives up 2 inches of rear legroom and 10% of its cargo space compared to the X1, a difference that solo commuters and families with baby-seat-age kids might never notice.

I also came away thinking that the car would be even more of a driver’s car with more power at the top end of the rev range, like you might get from oh, say, a gasoline-fed inline-6. It’s not surprising that the M135i version of this hatchback, powered by the same 300-horse turbocharged motor found in our US-market 235s and 335s, has been a darling of the European press.

Here’s the kicker, though: We used only one and three-eighths of a tank of gas, over the course of a 1000 mile trip. We averaged over 55 MPG according to the trip computer, slightly above the car’s UK urban rating of 53MPG and well below its “extra-urban” rating of 69MPG. The M135i is rated at 27.4 urban / 35.3 extra-urban on the same UK rating scale. Would you give up 2000 RPM of powerband to get a 120d’s fuel economy? In hybrid-obsessed America, there is clearly a demographic that would. Are there enough of them to justify BMW’s cost to certify the motor in the U.S.? There is some astute spreadsheet jockey deep in the bowels of BMW’s product planning group who, I’m sure, knows the answer. The question, as always, is whether BMW’s U.S. product lineup reflects this spreadsheet jockey’s gimlet-eyed analysis of demand, or whether there is a truth that has not yet filtered up to the boardroom.

N.B. we are using a rights-free image due to a lack of original photography, hence the discrepancy between the article and the photo.

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BMW: China To Be Largest EV Global Market By 2019 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/bmw-china-to-be-largest-ev-global-market-by-2019/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/bmw-china-to-be-largest-ev-global-market-by-2019/#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 12:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=834009 2014 BMW i3 01

Though Chinese consumers have been slow to adopt electric vehicles thus far, BMW believes China will become the largest global market for EVs by 2019 at the earliest.

Bloomberg reports the automaker entered into a joint venture with municipal power company State Grid Shanghai, installing public charging infrastructure at the city’s former World Expo site as one of 46 such sites around the city to be installed by the end of 2014. The charging equipment will be compatible with products made by BMW, SAIC and BYD et al, while Tesla owners will have to use Supercharger stations instead.

Meanwhile, BMW will begin deliveries of the i3 in China this September, being sold in showrooms alongside the i8. BMW China CEO Karsten Engel says he expects only 1,000 will arrive in showrooms this year due to lack of supply, while BMW overall will sell over 400,000. The Bavarians join fellow Germans Volkswagen and Daimler in producing EVs for the Chinese market to help boost adoption among consumers. Currently, 70,000 total EVs are on the road in the nation, far behind the Chinese government’s goal of 500,000 by next year.

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European-Backed UN Amendment Brings Autonomous Vehicle Future Closer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/european-backed-un-amendment-brings-autonomous-vehicle-future-closer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/european-backed-un-amendment-brings-autonomous-vehicle-future-closer/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 11:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=826642 Mercedes-Benz S500 Autonomous Limo

While autonomous vehicles are still in the early stages of testing, a few of the European members of the United Nations have laid the groundwork for the self-driven future to come sooner than later.

Reuters reports the U.N. Working Party on Traffic Safety received last month an amendment to Article 8 of the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic backed by Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and Austria that would allow drivers of autonomous vehicles to take their hands off the wheel so long as as the vehicle’s system “can be overridden or switched off by the driver” at any time.

Should the amendment pass through the myriad of red tape within the organizing body, 72 countries — the United States, China and Japan withstanding — would have to work the new legislation into their law books.

The European-backed amendment now means automakers like Mercedes-Benz and BMW can move beyond testing their autonomous and semi-autonomous offerings toward delivery to showrooms throughout the continent, all without waiting for Google and other U.S. interests to bring the technology to market. Mercedes in particular delivered an S-Class limo in response to the search engine giant’s own efforts last August which drove the Bertha Benz route between Mannheim and Pforzheim, Germany without driver input.

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BMW May Bring MINI Production To Mexico http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/bmw-may-bring-mini-production-to-mexico/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/bmw-may-bring-mini-production-to-mexico/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 12:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=821354 2014-MINI-cooper-yellow

Already considering a new plant in Mexico for its 1 and 3 Series, BMW may also bring MINI production to the line when the factory doors open in the near future.

Automotive News Europe reports the automaker’s execs prefer Mexico for the location of the small-car plant, proclaiming higher profits under a robust euro from building lower margin vehicles in the country’s growing manufacturing base.

The decision on where the plant will go could come sometime in the second half of 2014. Should Mexico get the nod, total annual production capacity in North America would climb to 600,000 units, the bulk of which would be fueled by the Spartanburg, S.C. plant’s 450,000 units per year.

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BMW Investing In A Carbon-Fiber Future Beyond i, M Brands http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/bmw-investing-in-a-carbon-fiber-future-beyond-i-m-brands/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/bmw-investing-in-a-carbon-fiber-future-beyond-i-m-brands/#comments Wed, 14 May 2014 10:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=820330 2014 BMW i8 03

On the success of a first-year sell-out of the i8 and high demand for the i3, BMW is making an additional investment into its joint venture with SGL Group, with the intention of introducing carbon fiber into models beyond the i and M collections.

Autoblog reports the automaker will inject $200 million into SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers in Moses Lake, Wash. — where the carbon fiber for both models of the i brand is produced — which will be used to boost production to 9,000 tons annually (from 3,000 tons currently) with the addition of four production lines to the two already in place, and bring 120 more employees for a total of 200. The expansion will make the Moses Lake facility the largest carbon fiber plant in the world when complete in early 2015.

As for where all of the carbon fiber will end up, BMW executive Dr. Klaus Draeger says the automaker will distribute the material to the rest of its overall lineup, a move that has always been in the cards according to BMW i communications manager Manuel Sattig:

Every idea, every technology, every revolution or new material that we came up with for BMW i eventually had to enable the rest of the BMW Group. Which means, yes, there is a plan to bring carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) to the rest of our fleet.

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New York 2014: BMW Debuts 2015 228i Coupe With Track Handling Package http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-bmw-debuts-2015-228i-coupe-with-track-handling-package/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-bmw-debuts-2015-228i-coupe-with-track-handling-package/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 10:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=803970 bmw-228-track-1-1

For those who opt to save $11,000 by selecting the 2015 BMW 228i Coupe over the M235i, a new Track Handling Package will soon join the options list to help bring the coupe on par with the M235i’s handling skills.

Though power will remain the same — a 240-horsepower four cylinder — Autoblog reports the package will enhance the 228i Coupe’s handling through BMW’s Adaptive M Suspension, Variable Sport Steering, and for stopping power, M Sport Brakes. A set of Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires on exclusive 18-inch alloy wheels aid in delivering the goods to the road.

The Track Handling Package will be available to 228i Coupes with either six-speed manual or eight-speed Sport Automatic transmissions beginning this July, and can be selected during the ordering process. Pricing will be announced closer to its showroom arrival.

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New York 2014: 2015 BMW M4 Convertible Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-bmw-m4-convertible-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-bmw-m4-convertible-unveiled/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:53:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800498 2015-BMW-M4-Convertible-07

There was more than one high-performance convertible taking its top off at the 2014 New York Auto Show today, as the 2015 BMW M4 Convertible made its grand entrance among those attending.

The M4 boasts a retractable metal roof, perfect for deterring thieves so long as the roof is up and the thieves aren’t particularly motivated. Meanwhile, power comes from a twin-turbo 3-liter I6 driving 425 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque through either a single-clutch six-speed manual or optional M-DCT seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Either option brings the M4 Convertible from nil to 60 in under 4.5 seconds.

As for weight and performance, BMW used aluminium and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic throughout its construction — from the fenders and hood, to the driveshaft and front strut brace — bringing the beast down 90 pounds to 4,055 for the U.S. market.

The M4 Convertible should arrive in showrooms this summer, though no word thus far on how much it will cost to do burnouts under the sun.

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New York 2014: 2015 BMW X4 Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-bmw-x4-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-bmw-x4-live-shots/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:33:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799946 2015-BMW-X4-06

For those who wanted an X6 in a smaller package, BMW revealed its new X4 Sports Activity Coupe crossover at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

The X4 can be had as either the xDrive28i for a base entry of $45,625, or for about $3,000 more, the xDrive35i. Both trims come with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, but the 28i posseseses a 2-liter turbo-four capaable of 240 horsepower under its bonnet, while the 35i makes do with a 300-horsepower I6.

Further enhancements can be had with X4′s M Sport Package, including tighter suspension and unique seats, while its less-useful trunk can be opened with a wave of your foot — perfect for doing the hokey-pokey after a bit of grocery shopping at Whole Foods Market.

Expect the X4 to give it you later this spring.

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Ur-Turn: Congratulations, You’ve Been Upgraded http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ur-turn-congratulations-youve-been-upgraded/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ur-turn-congratulations-youve-been-upgraded/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=797370 IMG_20140405_144902

Friend of TTAC Anand Ram writes about getting more than he bargained for at the Avis counter.

There’s an explosive truth I want to share: We writers don’t make a lot of money. While you gather yourself from the recoil of that bullet, here’s another: It doesn’t really stop us from wanting nice things.

Perhaps, then, the choice for this young writer’s first ever rental car makes little sense: Luxury.

Well, “luxury.” I’m not a car guy. I can name several pricey models, but I’ve driven around in my dad’s Toyota Corolla for most of my life. I know how a BMW 328i differs from a 335i in literal terms, but not on the road.

So my latest vacation to Florida was an opportunity to try something a little fancier. After a few clicks around rental sites, I decided on Avis. I reserved a “Lincoln MKS or similar” for 5 days, amounting to $459 with a discount. My wife, to her credit, only called my purchase ridiculous and unnecessary. Most husbands would call that a victory.

One turbulent plane ride later, we landed in Orlando fairly late at night. Tired and cranky, we made our way down to the Avis booth. There, the cheerful, young woman behind the counter chatted us up. Eventually I realized it was an upsell.

“You like convertibles?”
“No.”
“Really!?”

I don’t fault her–hustling is a valuable skill, but I was not in the mood. To be frank, I’m also not a convertible guy. I prefer, as I said, luxury. Quiet, smooth, comfortable. Politely–as Canadian as I could be at 11:30 PM–I told her as much. She left and came back with some keys.

“Okay, you’re in a Lincoln Navigator and–” I looked at my wife with wide eyes and turned.
“Sorry, the SUV?” I interjected. “I thought I rented a car?”
“We don’t have that model right now.”

That wouldn’t do. Alongside my father’s Corolla, I had also driven his Toyota Sienna for a number of years. That heavy beast turned me off the concept of big SUVs and vans. Also, driving on unknown roads in a monster like a Navigator didn’t interest me – never mind the gas bills I’d be facing. So our friendly Avis associate went off to see what she could do. She came back with more unexpected news.

“Okay, so you’re in a BMW.”

Did I mention I have the lousiest poker face in the wold?

“Sorry, what…uh…what model was that?” A question you’d call nonchalant, because of how obvious it was.
“5 series.”

The only thing that made this Indian writer happier was that the upgrade came at no extra charge. You can reserve a BMW 528i from Avis, but it costs twice what I paid–as does the Navigator. But there it was: A freshly washed white example.

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A thousand thoughts through my head, but what really stood out was how it excited me. I was smiling as I got in. Coming from a Corolla, the 528i may as well have been a space shuttle.

Of course, it only took a minute to shake all that off and actually get to driving the thing. I couldn’t tell you what that 2.0 liter engine was doing or how it did it (I may not know a lot about cars, but I remember when the letters on the back represented the size of the engine), but the end result was a very enjoyable ride.

The leather-wrapped wheel didn’t have the heavy German feel that I was expecting. Neither the brakes nor the throttle were overly sensitive. The trunk was more than adequate for our suitcases and carry-ons. The seats had more adjustment positions than I knew what to do with. I was finding reasons to call this the car my wife and I should buy–even going so far as to say it was the practical choice.

Although I my flight ended in Orlando, I still had to make my way to Tampa. Normally, any drives longer than 45 minutes make me sleepy. In the BMW, a two hour drive felt like nothing. Quiet, smooth and comfortable. The world rarely gives you what you ask for.

Florida’s roads, seemingly wider than what we see here in Toronto, were perfect. Even the Sunshine State’s states of no sunshine–the occasional torrential downpours–didn’t feel as scary. The car held its own in 30 to 40 minutes of zero visibility rain, never a lost sense of control.

The only strange part was the Start-Stop system, something I had never experienced before. Every time the car stopped, the entire engine cut out, in an effort to save fuel. A strange feature, considering I rarely stopped for that long, and even if I was down for a little bit, the engine would come back to life to power the A/C. Eventually, I chose to disable that function and enjoyed the experience a lot more.

Now, if I gush about how the car felt to drive, it’s because I, admittedly, know very little about good cars. But when it comes to good consumer technology, I’m in my wheelhouse.

Which is why I found the navigation system a mixed bag. The screen was quite large and easy to read, with a useful split-screen function. It wasn’t a touchscreen, though, and that’s just something that a tech guy like me expects –  especially since so many affordable cars now have them.

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It was controlled by a dial next to the gear shifter, with buttons to directly switch between radio, phone, navigation and menus. Depress the dial in to select, move to the left to go to a previous menu, turn it to scrub up and down options. This was the spaceship part–but the tedium in plotting a course made me realize how few cars get navigation right.

The actual route guidance was fantastic, with flawless turn-by-turn directions. Another helpful element was a distance and direction display next to the speedometer, in case my eyes wandered. The voice input, however, was garbage. Trying to speak out an address in Orlando gave me a suggestion in California.

But as nice as the 5-Series was, I couldn’t make heads or tails of the secondary controls. In that rainstorm, I was constantly frustrated with trying to figure out the wiper speed controls or how to turn them off. The handbrake pushed up, down and also had an auto function. And the most frustrating of all: the bloody indicators.

Push up to turn right, push down to turn left. Actually, push slightly up to flash to the right twice. Push harder up to keep them flashing, then pull down slightly to cancel it. I was lucky I didn’t get pulled over for confusing traffic behind me. There are certain things that don’t need improving.

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Despite the minor gripes, I loved driving that car. It made me feel like a big shot. I told my mother to pretend I was the doctor she thought I’d be at one point. Of course, being Florida, there are Jags and Lamborghinis around to really remind you of the small fish you are. That didn’t change how I felt. I was still smiling.

But starting at $51,000, it will never be more than a vacation for me.

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BMW May Build Second NA Plant To Fend Off German Rivals http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/bmw-may-build-second-na-plant-to-fend-off-german-rivals/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/bmw-may-build-second-na-plant-to-fend-off-german-rivals/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:04:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=791289 BMW Spartanburg

In its battle against Mercedes-Benz and Audi for record sales, BMW is mulling over the possibility of a second plant in North America.

Bloomberg reports the automaker would place its second factory in Mexico, with two sites under consideration. The decision to expand will take a few months according to BMW production chief Harald Krueger, Should the move be given a green light, the Mexican plant is likely to build the 3 Series.

The second factory would add to the long-term growth strategy BMW is using to fend off its German premium market competitors in a heated battle for records global sales, fueled by growing demand in the United States and China. Mercedes will add the C-Class to its Alabama facility in June with a new plant in North America due near the end of this decade, while Audi is in the middle of setting up shop in Mexico with a $1.3 billion plant set to produce crossovers beginning in 2016.

Previously, BMW announced it would invest $1 billion to expand its South Carolina plant by 50 percent in 2016, as well as add the X7 large SUV to the X Series lineup currently produced in the plant.

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BMW To Bring X7 SUV To Spartanburg http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/bmw-to-bring-x7-suv-to-spartanburg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/bmw-to-bring-x7-suv-to-spartanburg/#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 12:50:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=780505 BMW Spartanburg

BMW’s Spartanburg, S.C. plant, home of the X Series, will soon have a new member joining the family, in the form of the X7 fullsize SUV.

Automotive News reports BMW will announce the X7′s arrival later this week, and will spend heavily to prepare the plant for production of the three-row, seven-seat vehicle in a bid to chase a global sales record for themselves, with output expected to increase to 400,000 units annually from the current increase of 350,000 per year.

Though BMW remains mum, the majority of X7s are expected to remain in the United States, with production starting as soon as 2017. Meanwhile, the new X4 will go into production this year.

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Fewer Than 4,000 Green Calif. HOV Stickers Remain http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/less-than-4000-green-calif-hov-stickers-remain/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/less-than-4000-green-calif-hov-stickers-remain/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 12:56:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=776521 2012-Chevrolet-Volt-HOV-052_610x407

For potential California PHEV owners, time may soon run out to obtain the Green Clean Air Vehicle Sticker issued by the California Environmental Protection Agency for HOV lane use, as only 3,770 of the 40,000 stickers remain available.

Inside EVs reports a huge spike in applications for the green stickers since the start of 2013, with 12,000 issued last year, and 8,000 more since January. This is in contrast to 2012, when around 500 stickers per month were issued in the first seven months of the year.

The stickers, meant for AT PZEVs such as the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt, will likely be gone by the time BMW brings the i3 extended-range model to the United States this summer, and in spite of the automaker’s best efforts, only the pure-electric i3 will be eligible for the White Clean Air Vehicle Sticker issued to as many approved EVs, fuel-cell- and CNG-powered vehicles — like the Tesla Model S, Ram 2500 and Honda FCX Clarity — as can be registered.

Both green and white HOV stickers are set to expire New Year’s Day 2019, extended from the same date in 2015.

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BMW Looking To Increase US Production For Sales Record http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/bmw-looking-to-increase-us-production-for-sales-record/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/bmw-looking-to-increase-us-production-for-sales-record/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 12:54:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=776457 BMW X4 01

Chasing after a sales record and a 10 percent rise in pretax profit for 2014, BMW looks to increase output at the automaker’s Spartanburg, S.C. plant.

Reuters reports the plant is undergoing the necessary work needed to increase annual production of the automaker’s X Series from 300,000 to 350,000, with BMW chief executive Norbert Reithofer explaining that the U.S. market was one of great potential; thus, the plan to increase capacity. This would be in addition to the 400,000 units BMW aims to assemble in China after necessary investments raised capacity from 300,000 a year ago.

Though Reithofer remained mum on exact figures for how many of the SUVs will exit Spartanburg, as well as whether or not the automaker will introduce the X7 large SUV, he reiterated BMW’s goal of selling over 2 million units this year, having come close with 1.96 million in 2013. He also expects “group profit before tax to rise significantly” this year in spite of “ongoing volatile business conditions.” BMW COO Friedrich Eichiner later clarified Reithofer’s statement, claiming the figure to be “somewhere in the range of a high single-digit and a double-digit amount.”

Augmenting the expanding production, 12 new models are set to debut in the second half of 2014, including the 2 Series, 2 Series Active Tourer, and the i8.

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No Replacements For MINI Coupe, Paceman, Roadster http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/no-replacements-for-mini-coupe-paceman-roadster/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/no-replacements-for-mini-coupe-paceman-roadster/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 12:38:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=774977 2012 Mini Coupe

BMW’s MINI may not replace the Coupe, Paceman or Roadster when their day comes, opting to focus on three “pillar” models that allow the brand to be “more relevant to more people,” according to MINI head of product management Oliver Friedmann.

Automotive News Europe reports Friedmann’s first priority for MINI “is to roll out a portfolio that has strong pillars,” with each pillar being clear in what it means to the overall brand. With the original hatchback and Countryman identified as the first two pillars, a potential third pillar could come in the form of a compact model based upon the Clubman concept shown in Geneva.

As for the Coupe, Paceman and Roadster, Friedmann says the trio aren’t a priority to the brand at this time, with the possibility all three may end up in the crusher of history in the near future.

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BMW, Mercedes Downsize Number Of Architectures For Future Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/bmw-mercedes-downsize-number-of-architectures-for-future-vehicles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/bmw-mercedes-downsize-number-of-architectures-for-future-vehicles/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 13:01:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=773881 bmw-2-series-active-tourer-11

In order to accelerate development of new models while also cutting costs, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are downsizing the number of architectures to be used in future vehicles in their respective lineups.

Automotive News Europe reports Mercedes will be down from nine platforms five years ago to four platforms by 2016, with the first — the MFA — already in showrooms as the CLA; the MFA-underpinned B-Class and GLA will arrive in United States showrooms later this summer. The move would allow Mercedes to move safety systems from their flagship S-Class to lower classes more quickly than in previous years.

Meanwhile, BMW will go from five to two platforms — one for RWD, one for FWD –between its namesake brand and Mini. The latter debuted with the redesigned Mini not too long ago, and will also underpin the 2-Series Active Tourer officially unveiled in Geneva last week.

As for the RWD platform, BMW R&D board member Herbert Deiss says it will arrive in 2016 under the next-generation 7 Series. Both consolidations were brought to life to allow more affordable expansion of each brand’s lineup.

BMW’s i Series will not take part in the consolidation, nor will Rolls-Royce.

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Audi Takes Lead From BMW In Global Premium Car Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/audi-takes-lead-from-bmw-in-global-premium-car-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/audi-takes-lead-from-bmw-in-global-premium-car-sales/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 18:17:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=770714 2015-Audi-A3-beauty-exterior-005

For the first time this year, BMW loses the best-selling premium brand crown to a rival as Audi squeaks past the Bavarians in the first two months of 2014 to take the title.

Automotive News reports Audi delivered 242,400 units in January and February of this year, 383 more than BMW; at the same time last year, BMW led Audi by 429 units in their nine-year period of dominance over the global premium car market.

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler appeared not to be impressed by the news, however, as he noted in the brand’s annual press conference this week:

We’re ahead of our two main rivals in the first two months, but this doesn’t really interest me much. Our focus is on further growth.

Said growth aims to be driven by the introduction of 17 new or revamped models this year — including the A3 sedan roll-out in the United States and China, as well as the refreshed A3 hatchback and TT — as part of a five-year, 22-billion-euro investment in the brand, with goal of surpassing BMW once and for all in global sales by 2020.

BMW sales chief Ian Robertson, for his part, was confident his employer would take back the crown soon enough:

The innovative new models coming out this year, such as the 2-series Active Tourer and 4-series Gran Coupe, will give us the momentum to keep growing in 2014.

The new models will likely help the Bavarians rule the market for a 10th consecutive year, selling a projected 1.77 million units in 2014 over Audi’s 1.66 million and Mercedes’s 1.56 million according to IHS Automotive. However, previous reports indicate that the United States will not receive the 2-Series Active Tourer, which is taking heat for its front-drive layout.

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