BMW i Looks Great on the Surface, but May be Struggling Behind the Scenes

By Jacob Brown | May 25, 2012
BMW says 2012 will be a year of two halves, limited in its first part by its capacity to build the new 2012 BMW 3 Series sedan, per North American CEO Ludwig Willisch. In fact, at this week's U.S. press launch for the 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe and M6 convertible, Willisch said BMW will be much more successful from summer onward, bringing the X1 compact crossover, M5, M6 coupe, and a host of other refreshed and redesigned cars to the States. But if Automobile Magazine's Georg Kacher's intel has any merit, BMW's excitement could be very short-lived. Per his report, there are already internal conflicts over the "i" electric program BMW has started, as BMW expects worldwide sales of 100,000 annually for its i3 city car and 10,000 for the i8 sports car. The austerity movement spreading throughout Europe may threaten government support for expensive electric vehicle programs, potentially hampering the "i" cars. And outside California, the U.S. has been slow to embrace the new technology. Coupled with the expense of carbon fiber and the high purchase point of the cars, and BMW may have some first-class flops on its hands, albeit probably not for lack of innovation. And there has been some concern of BMW diluting its brand equity, stemming from a 4 Series nameplate that will inevitably replace the 3 Series coupe name, a much-too-soft and expensive Z4, no cheaper convertible, the prohibitively high cost of the 6 Series Gran Coupe, and the impending addition of a front-wheel-drive 1 Series in 2015 or so.
BMW has all sorts of first-world problems facing it—problems affecting the brand's very identity. Plenty more cars and crossovers will be coming from the Bavarian automaker over the next few years, pinpointed in detail by Kacher, but it may not be enough, not with the corporate culture of BMW at a crossroads with its product ambitions at least. But if there's any consolation to be found, the next BMW M3 (nee M4 in coupe form) promises to be lighter and faster by way of a confirmed 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine in its next generation. Source: Automobile Magazine