Fresh from the debut of the BMW X5 M and X6 M, we had a chance to sit down with BMW director of product planning Paul Ferraiolo at the Los Angeles Auto show to talk about Bimmer’s plans for the future. Here are four things we learned, including info on the 2 Series Active Tourer, and the potential for BMW’s M brand and i brand to cross-over.
The product offensive is far from over: According to Ferraiolo, the BMW product offensive which has seen just about every conceivable niche filled is “an ongoing process. When we see something that could work, we go after it, so it’s not something that has a finite ending when we run out of numbers. The market is always evolving and we’re always looking how we can exploit the market.”
A final decision on the 2 Series Active Tourer hasn’t been reached yet: Despite signals it would be arriving in 2015, a decision to bring the front-wheel drive BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, which shares its platform with the new four-door Mini Hardtop, to the U.S. hasn’t yet been made, “That segment is very, very small, so we’re letting the European markets launch it and we’ll see how it goes. We are evaluating it, but no firm plans have been made.”
The BMW i3 and i8 have taught the company some important manufacturing lessons: Ferraiolo says that the battery and carbon fiber technology that’s seen in the brands eco cars could eventually find themselves in non-i vehicles. “This formula is working,” says the product chief. While there are no current plans for an M-i cross-over, the lessons learned from the i8 (and to a somewhat lesser extent, the i3), could make their way into a future M car. With tightening emissions regulations, you never know where green technology will show up, says Ferraiolo. “If you can see it in a Formula 1 car, (you) can see it anywhere.”
Why not do an M7? Despite the fact that the United States is the world’s largest market for BMW M cars, Ferraiolo doesn’t currently see a case of a BMW M7, which could hypothetically go up against the rival Mercedes-AMG S63 or S65. According to Ferraiolo, the Alpina B7 currently fills that role well for the brand, “We feel really good with what we’ve got with Alpina,” he says, “The ‘M’ adds sort of a track-element to that, and I don’t know if there’s a lot of demand for the 7 Series on the track.”