The headline should read “teased again,” as this isn’t the first peek we’ve had of the automaker’s upcoming three-row SUV. Much of the model’s visage was already on display a year ago, when BMW unveiled the X7 iPerformance concept. (It’s funny how the passage of time lessens visual horrors.)
A pre-production model also appeared in a photo taken at BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina factory late last year, looking no less grotesque than the concept. This is the real thing, however, and a quick brightening of the above photo shows Bimmer took pains to tone things down.
An altogether odd BMW model will drop one of its peculiarities for the 2019 model year, the automaker has announced.
The i3 — a short, tall, electric vehicle boasting clamshell doors, ultra-narrow wheels, and an optional eucalyptus [s]parcel shelf[/s] dash — will dispense with the range-extended REx variant when the new model arrives. In doing so, the i3 drops the availability of a repurposed 637cc two-cylinder motorcycle engine designed to keep the car moving after its battery taps out.
The car’s everything you’d expect a next-generation German sports sedan to be. Lighter, slipperier, more efficient, and slightly larger in footprint. Handling dynamics are reportedly improved — a requirement that, if missed, might necessitate the need for nationwide group therapy.
It still looks like a BMW 3 Series, too, as wary designers employed at German luxury marques aren’t known for their overt craziness, Chris Bangle notwithstanding. But tradition, while seemingly intact in this next-gen 3 Series, goes out the window the minute you search for transmission options.
Forgive the use of the phrase “Tesla beater,” but would-be Model S buyers with an affinity for German vehicles had best hope BMW chairman Harald Krüger isn’t just blowing smoke. Krüger claims an upcoming addition to the brand’s slowly expanding electric vehicle line won’t go the weird route (a la the i3), nor will it be a straightforward, conservative affair (like the upcoming iX3).
Using the 4 Series GT’s architecture as a starting point, the chairman claims the i4, due out in 2021, will boast up to 435 miles of range and “redefine what is possible today for 0-60mph times.”
Originally dubbed the “Mega City Vehicle,” BMW’s i3 garnered a lot of positive attention for its modern styling and adherence to alternative-energy powertrains when it launched in 2014. This did not translate into sales, however. As its former name implies, the i3 isn’t incredibly useful outside of an urban environment due to its meager range. Customers seem to have noticed. Despite moving 11,024 units in the United States in 2015, BMW looks to be on pace for half that volume this year.
For 2019, the automaker is offering the little EV with a new 42.2-kWh battery, which Bimmer says is good enough for 153 miles of all-electric driving. That’s a significant improvement over the the current 33-kWh model’s 115 miles of electric range and an absolute triumph over the i3’s initial 60 Ah (roughly 18.8 kWh) cell, which was only good for about 80 miles.
Undoubtedly, the BMW 3 Series, besides being the benchmark among premium sports sedans, holds the crown for having the most stereotyped drivers.
It doesn’t help that, while attempting to make my way across a city jam-packed with tornado-darkened intersections last weekend, a sedan failed to wait its turn at one of the impromptu four-way stops, nearly hitting me. The make and model of the gauntlet runner? A BMW 3 Series. I’d love to see a study on this phenomenon.
Anecdotal accounts of impatient drivers aside, BMW loyalists have a new 3 Series to look forward to, and they won’t have to wait long to see it.
If, like most American consumers, there’s a diesel-powered BMW on your Christmas wish list, you’d best tell your loved ones to hurry. The German automaker plans to drop that meager sliver of its U.S. product line for 2019, but there’s a chance the wishes of the oil-burning crowd will force the automaker to hang on to a single model.
BMW has chucked a new M Performance variant into its X2 range, as no vehicle in the automaker’s lineup should ever have to go without the thirteenth letter of the alphabet. Fortunately, the brand’s decision to install a range-topping X2 also involves installing the most powerful four-cylinder engine in BMW’s history.
Without rivalry, there wouldn’t be sports, and the Atlantic Ocean probably would have been crossed for the first time by a multinational team assembled sometime in the late 1930s, backed by a top-heavy bureaucracy.
Rivalry, at least outside the workplace, is usually fun, and the fierce competition among Germany’s luxury marques remains an interesting one, simply due to the length of time this has been going on. U.S. sales figures from August show that Mercedes-Benz, which muscled out long-running best-seller BMW from its lofty perch in 2016, has at least some reason to be worried about its rival reclaiming lost ground.
After the prolonged teasing of both the new BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra, it’s nearly impossible to have any feelings left on the matter. We equate it to the rare sensation of desperately needing to urinate for an extended period before it mysteriously goes away. It’s impossible to know why or how that feeling left you, especially considering that’s now how things are supposed to work. But, inexplicable as it may be, it still happened.
That doesn’t mean you’re unrelieved when you finally make it to a bathroom. It just wasn’t the big event you were hoping for. The Z4 unveiling is a lot like that. We’re glad it’s finally here, but Bimmer’s returning roadster has been teased out, leaked, and speculated upon so much that it’s not that big of a deal anymore.
Alright, let’s see what BMW has for us.
Like a grinning child whose dad is pushing them on the swings, BMW wants to go higher. Higher!
In both price and model designation, BMW knows there’s loftier ground to claim — and buyers willing to fork over the contents of their bulging bank accounts to make it profitable. That’s why the looming 8 Series, a luxurious coupe bearing a resurrected name, likely won’t be the pinnacle of Bimmer’s range for long.
German cars in North America are not immediately associated with base, no-option models or economical motoring. But that didn’t stop Adam Tonge from suggesting today’s trio. Which vehicle gets the Buy when you’re shopping at the bottom of the German luxury barrel in 2002?
Ladies and gentlemen, select your strippers.
BMW is trimming some of the fat off its car subscription program after the media collectively realized that paying twice what you would on an average lease didn’t constitute a good deal. Frankly, most car subscription services that exist right now are an incredibly poor value. Bavarian Motor Works was the rule, not the exception.
However, most of these programs are in their infancy and cater to wealthier individuals who get a kick out pestering automakers to submit to their whims by occasionally delivering a new vehicle. It was presumed that those lofty fees would come down as competition ramped up and mainstream automakers entered the fray. That, along with some public criticism of the subscription model, seems to be helping push automakers away from astronomical prices.
That’s not to say the German manufacturer is suddenly offering a bargain alternative to leasing. But if you love the idea of having a car for every occasion and don’t want to deal with insurance agents, Access by BMW has become more affordable.
The list of new vehicles available with a manual transmission grows shorter each year, and for the vast majority of the driving populace, that’s just fine. But driving enthusiasts bemoan each model lost to the advancing wave of computer-controlled everything, closely keeping tabs on which vehicles can still be had with a three-pedal setup. A few might even buy one.
Even sporting European brands are not immune. In BMW’s stable, the 5 Series jettisoned its last 5 and 6 Series sticks (by then relegated to M models) in 2016. Other models went two pedal-only in recent years, including the 228i, 328i, and 428i. But BMW says there’s still a flame that keeps the transmission option alive in certain models, and it’ll keep building them until buyers give up, or our robot overlords take over.
BMW says it will hike the price of two utility vehicles in China to cope with the additional cost of tariffs on U.S. car imports in the world’s biggest vehicle market. The models are the X5 and X6, both manufactured in South Carolina.
This news comes after China increased import duties on all automobiles from the United States to 40 percent earlier this month. China had previously said it would reduce its already high vehicle tariffs across the board as a sign of good faith — which it did, while simultaneously slapping new punitive tariffs on the U.S. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has postponed prospective automotive tariffs while negotiations take place with Europe.
If you needed proof that a trade war is on and were wondering how automakers would handle it, look no further. BMW says it will have to raise the models’ Chinese MSRP by 4 percent to 7 percent. It’s a relatively modest increase considering how utterly massive the new import fees are, which indicates a willingness from the automaker to absorb some of the associated costs just to remain in the market. It’s something BMW is not alone in doing, and there could be a valuable lesson to be learned from that.
Last time on Rare Rides, we surveyed a little Fiat 124 Sport Coupe. A family car underneath, it aimed to be affordable fun for the middle-market. Today, we have a look at some not-so-affordable fun for the well-heeled. Come along for the New Class coupe experience.
While old school BMW enthusiasts love to criticize their favorite brand for spoiling itself with electronic steering and sacrificing fun for technology, proponents of other automakers claim Bavarian Motor Works has flat out ruined itself. However, the truth of the matter is that BMW still offers an array of suburb performance vehicles that many still find highly desirable — especially if their name begins with the letter M.
Even if the brand can’t use “The Ultimate Driving Machine” quite so liberally in 2018, it would be an untruth to suggest the M division is ignoring the well-heeled enthusiast community. But it doesn’t hurt to have a physical reminder, so BMW sent a rolling example of its motorsport catalog to the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The “M Performance Parts Concept” is based on the lovely little M2, which was recently replaced by the more hardcore M2 Competition, and serves as a reminder that the German automaker has a genuine interest in building highly competent performers — and will help you take them to the next level for a fee.
BMW’s new flagship model, the returning 8 Series, has officially entered production in Dingolfing, Germany. However, if you’re interested in one, you’d better check your business card for the applicable tags — words like chairman, president, or doctor. The model starts at a sizable $111,900, plus a $995 delivery fee.
If you find yourself lacking those credentials or the necessary income, we can recommend the slightly less ostentatious 6 Series and a helping of shame, as you’re clearly not the kind of earner you’ve aspired to be.
Of course, if you purchase the 6 Series Coupe you’ll be stuck buying last year’s leftovers and missing out on prestige and power — and we don’t mean symbolically. The base M850i comes with BMW’s 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 and 523 horsepower with 553 pound-feet of torque. Meanwhile, the base 640i comes with an inline 3.0-liter powerplant. While you can upgrade to the 650i and its 4.4-liter V8, the unit will still be almost 100 ponies shy of what the 8 Series brings to the table.
There have been more than a few special editions of the BMW the i3 and the i8, usually incorporating some kind of special paint scheme. We’ve seen the hybrid coupe in Protonic Frozen Black, Protonic Yellow, and Protonic Red in the past. But now BMW is tapping its paint partner Toplac to create something beyond the pale — a pair of one-offs sprayed in 24-carat gold.
Though BMW’s scheme is actually fairly easy on the eyes, there just something irksome about a gold car. Gold-wrapped exotics are growing in popularity and usually the easiest way to spot the person you’ll most want to choke at a car meet. For example, YouTube prankster and New Jersey stereotype Coby Persin would frequently motor his own gold-covered BMW i8 into New York City to procure some unnecessary attention. In 2016, that vehicle was double parked on a busy Manhattan street with Persin sitting on the hood when an “angry motorist” came and hit it once on the windshield with a baseball bat.
BMW’s past promises include a pledge to help keep drivers driving in the brave new world of autonomous vehicles. However, it hasn’t entirely sworn off self-driving technology. The company finds itself in a tricky spot, as it’s seen as both a luxury automaker and a performance brand. But it can’t claim to be “The Ultimate Driving Machine” if it doesn’t allow customers to drive.
Automakers and tech firms pushed relentlessly for autonomous driving, making claims that a self-driving nirvana was just around the corner. But current technology proved less than perfect in practice and modern autonomous vehicles require constant human involvement to operate safely, just like any normal car. Despite making strides, the industry seems torn on how to appease everyone.
The government is even more in the dark. While lawmakers initially agreed with industry rhetoric (that autonomy will save lives and usher in a new era of mobility), recent events sparked skepticism. There aren’t many new regulations appearing in the United States, but there also isn’t any clear legislation to help decide who’s held liable when the cars malfunction. A lot of what if questions remain unanswered.
BMW thinks this will be the main reason why autonomous cars fail.
A handful of photos of the 2019 BMW X5 leaked over the weekend, but their questionable resolution elicited queries about their authenticity — as did their Chinese origins. Those pics were followed by dozens more a few days later, along with confirmation from BMW that they’re the real deal.
While official photos of the vehicle were supposed to appear later this summer, the X5 isn’t slated to go on display until the Paris Motor Show this October. However, a Chinese auto forum was spotted by CarScoops posting the works Tuesday morning.
As nations continue plotting how to best stab each other in the back in the wake the United States’ decision to impose steeper tariffs on aluminum and steel, manufacturers have to find a way to roll with the punches. Domestic BMW dealers have begun crapping their designer britches over fears that 3 Series models will suddenly host MSRPs in excess of $60,000 if the Trump administration follows through with a threat to impose high import duties on cars.
While we don’t know if the 25 percent import tariff on cars will come to pass, we do know the very real steel tariffs will shrink the profit margin of many vehicles. However, BMW is one of the first automakers we’ve heard discussing the purchase of more U.S. steel to mitigate costs.
BMW is still banging the drum for the upcoming 8 Series, which is understandable. Resurrecting the flagship coupe is big news for the brand and the model has been hotly anticipated since the concept vehicle appeared at 2017’s Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach. Unfortunately, camouflaged prototypes (below) show the pre-production version hosting some watered-down styling. While slightly disappointing, it’s understandable that BMW would stray from the extravagant folds of the concept car.
This week, the company gave us our best look to date of the returning model, along with an announcement stating the automaker will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time since 2011 — where it plans to premiere the 8 Series coupe. We already have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
As domestic automakers usher sedans onto the precipice of a mass grave, it appears German manufacturers have yet to give up on them — at least the fancier ones. BMW recently announced the M5 Competition, which is an amped-up version of the standard performance model.
Somehow, we get the feeling the Competition exists only so BMW can set a better lap time at the Nürburgring. Excluding its visual enhancements, we doubt many drivers would be able to notice any changes from the already fast M5.
Adding 17 additional horses to a lightweight hatchback is transformative, but the same cannot be said for a 600 hp sedan weighing in at over two tons. But that’s what the Competition offers — along with revamped suspension tuning, more aggressive looks, and an angrier sound.
Obviously the B&B are all about brand-new imported luxury SUVs, as their great value, utility, and long-term prospective ownership costs put them in a class all their own.
Trolling opener aside, we’re going to talk about expensive SUVs today. Up for grabs are three contenders around the $140,000 price point, from Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW.
It’s been a while since BMW pushed out an all-electric vehicle. The i3 was launched in 2013 and things has been relatively quiet at Bavarian Motor Works ever since. However, the brand maintained that more i-badged vehicles would arrive once it gets EV production costs under control, stating that its next electric would be the iX3 crossover.
Arriving in Beijing this week in concept form, the vehicle looks refreshingly like a production model — with a few stylistic touches separating itself from BMW’s core fleet. You might even mistake it for a refreshed X3, and that’s kind of the point. For the most part, the company’s initial foray into electrification served to test the market’s willingness for such vehicles and act as a bit of a spectacle. That’s not to be the case with the new batch.
BMW wants the upcoming EVs to have more mainstream success than the i3 or i8, and normalizing them is a big part of that. That’s also the reason it chose to base the next one on the high-volume X3.
BMW always hinted that the first round of electrified vehicles populating its i sub-brand were developed to dazzle consumers with tech and probe the market’s willingness for EVs. The company is now developing two new models for the group: the iNext crossover and i4 sedan. However, both vehicles are in the midst of development and are likely to take a while to get to market. Furthermore, the brand has said it will use modular architecture kits on all models for at least the next 10 years.
That leaves the i3 and i8 in a slightly awkward position. Launched in 2014, both cars will need to remain relevant over the next few years while BMW preps the next batch of EVs. But the automaker’s continued reliance on flexible platforms that can handle gasoline and/or electric drivetrains isn’t likely to bode well for them in the aftermath. As experiments, neither model is guaranteed to persist far into the 2020s — at least not as we know them today.
The ratio of Detroit iron to imports stands to rise at the next North American International Auto Show, following BMW’s decision to withdraw from the event. On Friday, the German automaker announced it will join a growing list of automakers — including rival Mercedes-Benz — that don’t have time for the Detroit show.
It’s the latest blow for an event struggling to maintain its relevance in an age of off-site reveals, tech-focused consumer shows, and global online audiences.
Luxury automakers aren’t in the business of losing money, and BMW doesn’t want to take a hit just because futurists claim the era of EVs is now. Until it has fifth-generation electric vehicle technology on hand, the German automaker plans to go easy on EV production, CEO Harald Krüger told analysts on Thursday.
While Bimmer’s long-range plans still call for 25 electrified models by 2025, 12 of them fully electric, Krüger said it would be too costly to hit the production throttle at this time. How much cheaper are the products designed around BMW’s fifth-generation technology? The difference (in percentage) amounts “a two-digit number,” the CEO claimed.
While companies are often found guilty of sketchy and illicit behavior, it’s becoming increasingly difficult not to feel some measure of sympathy for German automakers. The same goes for the government officials whose job it is to repeatedly raid the homes and offices of people employed by those manufacturers. Once gain, German prosecutors have searched both Volkswagen and BMW over diesel-related shenanigans.
Volkswagen saw 13 of its offices raided in Wolfsburg throughout the month of March. Braunschweig-based authorities seized physical and digital files in the hopes of catching the automaker in a lie from 2015. At the time, VW claimed an in-house investigation found it had understated fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions on no more than 36,000 vehicles. Considering the diesel emissions scandal affected far more vehicle than this, as well as the company’s much higher earlier estimate, prosecutors hope to catch the company out.
Meanwhile, BMW saw its facilities searched over suspicions that it employed a defeat device to circumvent diesel emission testing. The automaker said authorities were looking into “erroneously allocated” software on the BMW 750d and BMW M550d.
As sometimes happens, there’s a war brewing in the heart of Europe. This one isn’t like the others, though — instead of nation versus nation, it’s a case of lawmakers versus privately owned vehicles, primarily those of the diesel persuasion.
So eager are some city governments to ban the operation of diesel-powered cars and trucks in or near urban centers, BMW Group has taken the unusual step of issuing a promise. In a bid to allay fears of new (or newish) vehicles becoming useless to their owners, the automaker claims it will let German lessees return their diesel vehicles and switch to a gas-powered model.
Don’t worry about the government, BMW wants its customers to know. Just enjoy that compression ignition engine while you can.
BMW’s 8 Series coupe isn’t even here yet and the automaker is already toying with the idea of a sedan. Of course, in true luxury automaker fashion, it’s calling the four-door concept a Gran Coupe — proving once again that the language has evolved to a point where it is as fluid as it is meaningless.
Officially dubbed the “BMW Concept M8 Gran Coupe,” the sedan offers a conceptual glimpse at a performance variant of the brand’s returning 8 Series. The plan appears to be: build something that can compete with, and perhaps trump, Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class. But if you’re going to take on the big boys, you need to come at them with everything you have. That means a base model 8 Series coupe with double-wishbone suspension, rear-wheel steering, adaptive suspension, xDrive, gobs of tech, and a strong motor.
However, you’ll also need a nasty four-door M variant with all of that and a rip-roaring engine, larger air intakes, flared fenders, and a carbon fiber rooftop.
With Mercedes-Benz entering the pickup market with its new X-Class, BMW has admitted it may be time to did the same. To be clear, it wasn’t the home office that made this assertion. It was head of BMW Australia Marc Werner.
Aussies love their pickups or, more appropriately, its smaller, low-riding counterpart, affectionately called a “ute.” If you’re unfamiliar with the vehicle category, you probably don’t spend a lot of time in Australia or New Zealand. Bastardized from the term “coupé utility,” the ute moniker used to be reserved for models like the Ford Ranchero or Chevrolet El Camino. The term has since expanded to mean any non-gargantuan pickup truck and has roots going back to the 1930s.
At any rate, Werner says BMW needs to build one and the executive is pushing Germany to get the show on the road. Unfortunately for Warner, Bavaria’s receptiveness toward the segment has been mixed, to say the least. BMW senior vice president Hendrik von Kuenheim called Mercedes’ upcoming X-Class “appalling.” However, he appeared to be speaking more to the perceived subpar quality of the Nissan Navara-based pickup and not the concept itself.
Stately. Elegant. Dignified. Endangered?
This isn’t the first time someone has applied that final descriptor to flagship passenger cars, and with good reason. As SUVs gobble into traditional passenger car market share, sales of even the most prestigious sedans have taken a hit — leaving premium automakers wondering “what’s next?”
Well, more SUVs, for one, but also more electrification. Luxury car buyers have shown themselves to be more receptive to plug-in hybrid or fully electric vehicles, but more importantly, one pesky American automaker — Tesla — is threatening to eat everyone’s lunch.
In Europe, competition between the Old World and Silicon Valley is heating up, and the newcomer is winning the sales race.
It is impossible to ignore the present pattern in the Buy/Drive/Burn series. We’ve had three entries in the series so far, two of which have been coupe-focused. In today’s fourth edition, we talk coupes again and sort out some questions of arson from B&B commenter Dal20402. He suggested today’s modern, rear-drive sports coupe lineup in the QOTD post where we introduced the rules for this series.
The coupe category spans three continents, each with its own idea of what a rear-drive coupe should be. Which one will burn?
When it went on sale in the latter part of 2014, BMW’s i8 was something of a sensation, though the enthusiasm had as much to do with the car’s jarring design as its technology. I seem to recall Tom Cruise tooling around Dubai in one, possibly in one of the 87 Mission Impossible films.
Boasting scissor type doors, a plug-in hybrid powertrain, a backseat you’d never want to find yourself in, and a sticker price well north of 100 grand, the i8’s time as a media darling wasn’t long-lived. Like a child’s new toy, interest quickly fell away.
There’s two i8s arriving this spring; one a refreshed coupe, the other offering an al fresco motoring experience, sans backseat. Perhaps more importantly, there’s been an effort to fix a serious deficiency in the i8’s green halo: its incredibly limited electric range. Pricing, now released, shows a considerable markup for the drop-top. Can a double-duty lineup, beefed-up eco credentials, and an extra shot of power gild the i8 once again?
Earlier this week, the driver of a 2003 BMW X5 called 911 to inform the operator that he was speeding and wouldn’t be able to stop. The motorist, one Joseph Cooper, explained to the operator “my gas pedal is stuck” as his SUV barreled down a Florida interstate at around 100 miles an hour. Officers were dispatched to the highly mobile scene on Monday at 1:00 p.m. and ultimately decided to halt Cooper’s progress using stop sticks.
BMW is calling bullshit on his runaway vehicle claims, and we’re inclined to agree. There were loads of things the driver could have done to stop the vehicle but, based on portions of his call with 911, he was either unwilling or incapable of performing those tasks.
Thanks to automakers and their stable of marketing and PR folks, the English language is feeling used and abused these days. Don’t worry, this isn’t a rant about overused industry buzzwords like synergy and dynamism, the popularity of which show no signs of waning. You’ll be hearing those forward-thinking — and intentionally confusing — descriptors for years to come.
Right until cooler, non-lame words like panache and gravitas come into vogue, this author hopes.
Lately, and with increasing frequency, a new language is emerging on the automotive scene. High-minded, plummy, and completely shameless, this new language flings misleading titles at a certain product: utility vehicles, specifically those appealing to buyers known for good breeding, tennis, and summers at the cape.
BMW’s X4 is a little bit of an odd duck. Basically the budget version of the X6, the fastback crossover similarly ditches practicality for attitude. For 2019, the compact luxury crossover is getting an opportunity to hold that posture by gaining two more powerful engines and shedding a few pounds as it swaps to the brand’s new CLAR platform.
Fitting, considering the X4 resembles a sedan that abuses steroids more than it does a traditional sport utility vehicle. However, it maintains a face that’s extremely similar to the X3 SUV while exhibiting more car-like attributes everywhere else. Now, about those engines…
Automotive soothsayers have foreseen the coming Armageddon, where private car ownership vanishes and we’re all ferried around in robotic taxis or rental vehicles, and manufacturers have taken their divinations to heart. Either that, or the opportunity to diversity already successful companies is too tempting a prospect to pass up. As such, we’ve seen “mobility” become the new industry buzzword — used as a fill-in for electric vehicles, autonomous development, and ride-sharing/hailing programs.
Hoping to expand its own mobility services, Daimler has announced an openness to seek broader alliances just days after BMW Group bought out its rental car partner, Sixt, from their joint car-sharing program DriveNow. That sets the stage for a peculiar partnership, as the two German automakers have a long, competitive history with each other — one which sometimes results in passive-aggressive behavior.
We’ve had more BMWs featured on Rare Rides than any other marque. Aside from the BMW-powered Vixen motor home and the Alpina B7S, there was the Freeclimber, the mid-engine supercar flop called the M1, and the first experiment in the cabriolet Z category, the Z1.
Let’s see what happens when BMW makes a car eight times better than the Z1.
We know the State of California loves electric cars, but the Los Angeles Police Department may have mixed emotions. Back in June of 2016, the LAPD awarded BMW with a contract to provide 100 battery-powered i3 hatchbacks as part of a plan to enhance its public image. At the time, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told the press, “We should be thinking green in everything we do,” adding that the electric BMWs would “also save money and resources.”
Fast forward to 2018 and the contract is beginning to look like a good way to waste millions of dollars. The LAPD agreed to lease the vehicles, effectively doubling its electrified fleet, for three years. The logic was that the gas savings would offset the $1.4 million it would cost the police force to apprehend them from BMW. While that sounds wonderful, there is a problem — the LAPD isn’t driving them.
We’ve been on a bit of a continental streak lately here at Rare Rides. First, the Cadillac Allanté showed us American engineering with Italian design. Then, the Gordon-Keeble coupe from 1965 mixed British creativity and funding with Italian and American components.
Today we’ve got a different trifecta: A Japanese design, rebodied by the Italians, then powered by a German engine. Open up some shampanya, and let’s learn about the Freeclimber.
It certainly feels like BMW is taking its sweet time getting the full-size, three-row X7 to market, but the automaker assures us it’s almost here. Announced yesterday, pre-production models are now rolling off BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina, assembly line — a major step in a product timeline that began in 2014.
Offering up an all-important third row and front end styling that’s sure to spark debate (this year’s X7 iPerformance concept set a high bar for controversy and grille size), the production model should be ready for a late 2018 debut. In the meantime, certification drudgery and copious amounts of hot and cold weather testing awaits.
As the sole member of the Big German Three without a three-row SUV (SAV in BMW parlance), the X7 is a much-needed vehicle, and not just because the automaker wants more high-margin vehicles to fund its electrification efforts. True, the new car market is contracting, but big premium utility vehicles sell.
In a flagrant exercise of self-congratulation, BMW announced it met its sales goal of 100,000 electrified vehicles in 2017 “as promised.” Saying that this “underlines the company’s leadership role when it comes to electro-mobility,” BMW installed a battery-themed light installation on the side of its world headquarters in Munich, Germany, that announces “the future is electric.”
While this may be true, mainstream news outlets have muddled the brand’s message by framing the EV aspect all wrong — which is probably exactly what the automaker hoped for. We’re not going to slander the company’s achievement outright; the volume does represent a nearly 60-percent increase over last year. But these aren’t just battery-electric cars, they’re hybrids, mild-hybrids, and BEVs.
Last week we introduced a new series to TTAC called Buy/Drive/Burn. A rather comprehensive set of instructions (and an example) was given in order to prepare you for the upcoming entries into our new game. If you haven’t read that primer, go do so now. This week is the first real entry for Buy/Drive/Burn and, like the example post, we’re sticking with luxury.
Your three options to purchase, borrow, and set on fire are all luxury coupes costing over $100,000.
Because large, powerful vehicles surely play second fiddle to self-driving technology and electric powertrains, right? That sentiment might not hold true in the minds of driving enthusiasts, or even the people in charge of building those vehicles, but that’s the direction the industry’s headed. Greener. Smarter. More soulless.
At BMW, the company’s plan for a cleaner future comes with a steep price tag. In an odd twist, the cost of developing new technologies just might make life more enjoyable for driving enthusiasts in the near future.
Today we have a dual-function Question of the Day. The primary function will be informative; detailing an upcoming new series here at TTAC and explaining how it all works. The secondary function is to solicit ideas from you, our dear readers, for said new series.
By now you’re undoubtedly intrigued, so keep on reading.
Ah, bygone French cars. Citroen, Peugeot, and Renault all abandoned the American market by the early 1990s, leaving behind mostly memories of poor reliability and shoddy trim on underpowered little cars. But those in the know are aware of the other side of the coin. It’s the side where France was (is?) great at producing hot hatchbacks. French style and engineering came together to compete with the founder of the breed, the Volkswagen GTI.
For those people, today is a special day. Presenting the Renault 5 GT Turbo:
There’s a reason BMW’s M sub-brand is the performance division all other automakers strive to copy. Few letters hold as much clout as “M.” That one little addition to a BMW’s model name promises an overly generous heaping of horsepower, handling, and general sporting prowess.
Continuing to this day, “M” ensures buyers of the presence of a finely-tuned, wildly athletic six, eight, or — once upon a time — 10-cylinder gasoline engine under the hood. Only in recent years has the sub-brand seen new products that threaten to water down the purity of the designation (the X5 M and X6 M), but at least those models stick to the basic power formula.
BMW knows, however, that the gas-only party can’t last forever. The automaker now admits its foray into electrification will not end with its stock models and “i” sub-brand. “M” is poised to get a dose of “e,” and BMW’s not exactly sure how it feels about that.
BMW presently sells the hybrid i8 to the eco-conscious performance driver. It is mid-engined, has butterfly doors and what have you, and it’s quite striking.
But did you know that it’s not the first mid-engine BMW? No, that title goes to our Rare Ride today — the M1, from all the way back in 1981. Don’t worry, it’s not all that Malaisey.
BMW announced Friday it is recalling nearly one million cars and SUVs in North America. The recalls are for two separate issues which may cause the same problem: an under-hood fire.
It looks like the mystery surrounding a rash of widely reported blazes is solved, at least for some vehicles involved.
Having just five utility vehicles in a brand’s model lineup just doesn’t cut it anymore. This isn’t 2015. If recent sales sheets have shown us anything, it’s that buyers the world over would take up arms and fight a war just for a little more choice at the crossover buffet.
Well, BMW is heeding that call. The Bavarian automaker unveiled a long-missing model this week that plugs a glaring gap at the bottom of its utility lineup — the X2.
Back in July, German authorities became concerned that the country’s manufacturers had been operating one of the largest automotive cartels in history. With many auto executives still under the microscope for diesel emission manipulation, combined with inter-familial strife between the Piech and Porsche clans, Germany’s auto industry was starting to resemble a PG version of the film Goodfellas — with a dash of Dallas, for flavor.
Despite some rather serious accusations, nothing really came of the cartel investigation. We were beginning to wonder if it was much ado about nothing. But Germany’s antitrust officials hadn’t forgotten — they were simply biding their time during preliminary investigations into corporate collusion and price-fixing. Earlier this week, they made their big move and raided BMW’s headquarters.
German luxury automaker BMW is seeking to establish a joint venture with China’s Great Wall Motor. The prospective deal focuses specifically on electric vehicles, according to sources familiar with the matter. A cooperative relationship with Great Wall would be BMW’s second in the world’s largest auto market – and a necessary one, as China forces all foreign automakers to team up with local partners in order to do business within the country.
Great Wall Motor Co. is China’s largest SUV maker by volume, and witnessed a nearly 20-percent rise in its share price on Wednesday after Asian media outlets reported it was in talks to partner with BMW.