BMW boss confirms FWD future
BMW’s boss Norbert Reithofer slipped some rather disturbing front-wheel drive references into his annual accounts media conference presentation on Wednesday.
Usually these media conferences are of passing interest – enticing only those with a startling level of financial literacy. Wednesday’s event followed a rather predicable turn of events – at first.
Reithofer’s 2009 salary increased by €300 000 to €2.6m, despite the company’s net profit for last year being 36.4% (€210m) down from 2008.
Overall the BMW Group sold 1.29m vehicles last year and predicts demand should stabilise at around 1.3m units for this year.
Dropping the bomb
The disturbing part of the media conference came when Reithofer conjectured about BMW’s future growth being fundamentally driven by small cars. Front-wheel driven small cars in fact – and we're not talking Mini here…
"We are exploring the possibility of developing a joint architecture for the front and four-wheel drive systems of these (small) cars. In other words: There will be front-wheel drive BMWs in the smaller vehicle classes in the future."
If the boss says that, then you had better believe it's going to come to fruition.
BMW's are rear-wheel drive for reason - so that guys like Ronan Keating (yes, it's him behind the wheel) can feel manly on occasion...
FWD future trends?
For BMW traditionalists, who have been aghast at the M-division's design direction of late (all-wheel drive, automatic transmission, forced-induction SUVs), Reithofer’s words will strike a particularly grating tone.
The possibility of a switch to front-wheel drive within the company’s model portfolio at levels above 1 Series are quite remote though.
Instead, a front-wheel drive competitor (not a Mini) for Audi’s A1 sporting the blue and white roundel is now a virtual certainty.