BMW Commits Brand Sacrilege. Or Not.

Martin Schwoerer
by Martin Schwoerer

Old fogies like me remember when BMW's GM-sourced automatic transmissions caused sturm und drang. Brand dilution! How can we Germans rely on a foreign competitor [at least in theory] for a key technology? So much for that. So why all the hubbub when BMW reveals they'll share engines with another carmaker? At last weekend's annual shareholder meeting, CEO Norbert Reithofer caused an uproar by announcing that the next-generation 1-Series will have a four-banger developed with PSA (Peugeot/Citroën). Reality check: BMW's MINI started life with a Brazilian-built Chrysler-designed Tritec engine. The MINI One D used a Toyota-built diesel engine. From November 2006, the MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S models have been powered by a 1.6 litre engine co-developed by BMW and PSA Peugeot-Citroën. But propeller-heads don't want a Bimmer-badged car to mix genes with the French. The Financial Times Deutschland calls the move a "taboo breaker," while shareholders bemoan the brand's move from "class to mass." Ever the beancounter, Reithofer prefers to focus on saving money: "A car's engine is responsible for 25% of the car's total manufacturing cost." So that's alright, then.

Martin Schwoerer
Martin Schwoerer

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  • LosgatosCa LosgatosCa on May 15, 2008
    This strategy may lose folks like us, but won’t lose most others who have no idea the number of cylinders or valves these cars have. Many (most?) BMW buyers primarily care about what their neighbor/boss/girlfriend/mistress thinks. Enthusiasts do not make crude generalizations about people that choose to buy BMWs just because they are considered 'high end'.
  • Healinginfluence Healinginfluence on May 15, 2008

    I'm still thinking about this. What would US customers say if Lexus started having engines made by Kia or by VW? If I wanted a Peugeot I would buy a Peugeot. Ford now advertises that its cars are as good as Toyota's cars. Well, the best way to make sure you end up with a car as good as a Toyota is to buy a Toyota. That strategy is guaranteed to work. Honestly, this announcement tempts me to buy a Personal Transportation Appliance. I am thinking of the 2009 Acura TSX. At least the engine will really be made by Honda.

  • Nino Nino on May 15, 2008

    Does it sound better if Peugeot and Citroen use BMW's 4 cylinder engine?

  • Healinginfluence Healinginfluence on May 15, 2008

    That would make me think less of all three companies. BMW's position should be that if you want a BMW engine you must buy a BMW vehicle. And I guess that should be the position of Peugeot and Citroen as well -- if they have any pride in their product.