BMW has become highly cost-conscious, as profits slide at the same time as investment in EV production ramps up, so it’s drawn up a hit list of less-profitable models that won’t be replaced. They include the standard-wheelbase 7-series, the Z4, the 2-series Gran Tourer and cabrio and the 3-series GT. The ungainly 6-series GT looks a good bet to survive because Norbert Reithofer, chairman of BMW’s supervisory board, is a fan. Since Reithofer was replaced as chairman of the board of management in 2015 by Harald Krüger, shares have dropped from 122 to 65 euros. Nobody’s blaming Krüger for the state of the economy, or for the sabre-rattling between the US and China that’s prompting some new-factory building. But it is raising questions about whether his contract will be extended when it expires next year – and who’d replace him.
Georg Kacher’s inside line
The X6 (above) is getting a big brother. The X8 is, we’re told, not simply a coupe version of the X7. It’s going to be available only in relatively sporty guises, including an X8M and an M Power plug-in hybrid that promises 168bhp from an electric motor, with up to 60 miles of zero-emission range.
BMW’s electric pioneers, the i3 and i8, live to fight another day alongside the torrent of all-new EVs coming from BMW in a couple of years. The less radical new i3, due in 2022, will be loosely based on the next X1, and may be offered with a choice of power sources: hydrogen fuel cell or battery-electric. That year’s shorter, lighter new i8 will gain more power for both its electric motor and its now-four-cylinder petrol engine – a total of around 540bhp.
Cost-cutting measures being considered include speeding up the R&D process by doing more on screen, less in the real world, and by drastically reducing the number of engine and trim options available. Possible partnerships are also being discussed, even though that’s not always worked out very well for BMW in the past; think Rover.
BMW has recently started supplying 4.0-litre V8s to Jaguar Land Rover, but that’s relatively small beer next to one of the ideas currently under consideration: a low-cost electric saloon project with Daimler. It would be made in China for the Chinese market, where it would be significantly cheaper to buy than the 1-series and A-Class saloons.
New 1-series doesn’t get a six; part of BMW’s engine rationalisation programme