Auto blogWed, 23 Jul 2014 11:01:00 EST
In the last few years, BMW has definitively proven that it wasn't a slave to its legacy. In the US, the 3 Series was generally associated with smooth, flat-six engines, but the Bavarian brand dropped a four-cylinder turbo into it. The company was also known for its sports sedans, and it went green with the i3 and i8. Now, rear-wheel drive is off the table as defining its vehicles, as well. With the imminent launch of the 2 Series Active Tourer, the Bavarian's models are going front drive and opening up themselves to a whole new group of customers, so the thinking goes.
"We are expecting the Active Tourer will have a conquest rate of around 75 percent," said Frank Niederlaender, a BMW product manger, to Automotive News Europe. If you're not hip to the lingo, that means three quarters of the hatchback's buyers would come from other brands - an impressive figure, if accurate.
When it hits the road, the 2 Series Active Tourer will be the first BMW-branded vehicle to use the company's UKL front-wheel drive platform, already on the current Mini Cooper. The roomy hatchback is aimed at young families looking for a car that is luxurious but can still tote around the tots. It launches in Europe in September to compete against similar models like the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, but the Bimmer isn't crossing the Atlantic to the US until early 2015, according to ANE.
With a debut in 2009, it's high time that BMW delivered the world with the standard mid-cycle refresh of its popular 5 Series. While we aren't expecting to see it here in the United States, that freshening will include the vehicle shown above, the 5 Series wagon.
This is only the second time we've spotted the camo'd, long-roof 5er in the past year, and while it was chained to a flat-bed in those snaps, today, we can see it lapping the Nürburgring. In addition to the images from the track, we also have our first look at the cabin of the freshened 5 Series, although even it is covered in camouflage, making it quite difficult to spot anything of substance.
As for the exterior, expect modest changes for the second-half of the F10 5er's life, with typical tweaks like new headlights and taillights, and perhaps a freshened front fascia. Considering we last saw the upcoming 5 Series just over a year ago, we'd expect an auto show debut for this smoothed-over model in the not-so-distant future, with Paris a leading candidate.
Which automaker do you think ships the most cars out of North America, one of the Detroit Three or perhaps one of the Japanese automakers? Nope. It turns out the BMW's Spartanburg, SC, factory is the biggest automotive exporter from the continent in the United States. According to a recent profile by Bloomberg looking at the plant's 20th anniversary, Bimmer's southern ops sends out more vehicles than all of Michigan combined.
When the Spartanburg factory opened up in 1994, its success was hardly assured, largely because of South Carolina's relatively small economy at the time. However, BMW picked the site because of its proximity to East Coast shipping that made it easier to move engines and transmission in from Germany and export vehicles back to Europe, according to Bloomberg. The Bavarians clearly made the right choice.
Today, the plant has developed into an absolute powerhouse. The factory currently assembles the X3, X4, X5 and X6 and exports about 70 percent of the vehicles built there. Things are only getting better. BMW is investing $1 billion through 2016 to boost annual production from the current 300,000 units up to 450,000 and to build a new flagship crossover called X7. The expansion also adds a further 800 jobs there to take total employment up to about 8,800. Including the latest financing, BMW has put over $7.3 billion into the factory since it opened, notes Bloomberg.
We just can't seem to get away from recalls involving the faulty airbag inflators supplied by Takata. There are already millions of vehicles in need of repair as a result of these ever-expanding campaigns, and BMW is adding another 1.6 million worldwide. The Bavarian automaker is issuing a recall for certain 3 Series models, including 574,000 of them in the US, to replace the passenger-side, front airbag inflator.
Specifically, the campaign covers 3 Series models from the 2000 through 2006 model years built between May 1999 and August 2006. "It's only the E46" generation of cars that are affected, which are now two model revisions old, according to BMW of North America spokesperson Matt Russell, speaking to Autoblog.
These models suffer the same problem as the rest of the vehicles with the faulty inflators. It's possible for the part to rupture during airbag deployment and possibly spray shrapnel at the occupant. However, according to BMW, the automaker isn't aware of any actual cases of this happening in any of its vehicles.
Once upon a time, you could look at the back of a trunk lid of a BMW and come up with a pretty fair idea of what sat under its hood. For example, a 320i was a 3 Series with a fuel-injected, 2.0-liter engine, a 328i was a 3 Series with a fuel-injected, 2.8-liter engine and a 328Ci was a two-door 3 Series with the same engine. Those were good days.
Today, though, that simplicity is dead and gone. A 328i now has a 2.0-liter engine, just like the 320i, while the simple "C" designation that was affixed to two-door models has been replaced with a "4," so we have a 428i and a 435i. It gets worse, though. A 550i uses a 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 (it should be a 544ti, although we'd be willing to hear an argument for "tti") and a 740i uses a 3.0-liter, turbocharged six-cylinder, which is the same engine found in a 535i. It's madness.
And, well, it's about to get madder, if a post on a BMW enthusiast forum is to be believed. According to f30post.com, we could see a shakeup in at least the 3 and 4 Series nomenclature, thanks to an impending refresh that will see the addition of new, turbocharged four- and six-cylinder engines, codenamed B48 and B58, respectively.
Our spy shooters have caught a new FAST BMW testing that's rumored to hit the market in late 2015. Sadly, the word fast in that last sentence isn't describing the car's performance; instead it's an acronym that stands for Family Active Sports Tourer. Talk about a case of false advertising.
Despite it's speedy name, the FAST doesn't look ready to set any Nürburgring lap records. It rides on BMW's modular, front-wheel drive UKL platform that underpins the current generation Mini Cooper, upcoming 2 Series Active Tourer and next X1. According to our spies, its design is supposed to blend the looks of a wagon and a CUV on the outside with a large, useful interior. Conceivably, it could be offered with the hybrid system from the 2 Series, as well.
The new prototype definitely shares the styling of its front-wheel-drive BMW siblings. Up to the A-pillar, it looks pretty similar to what we know about the future X1. But the FAST has a more arched profile and lower ride height compared to the crossover's chunkier, more conventional design.
With seven seats and front-wheel drive, you might not expect the upcoming long-wheelbase version of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer to live up to the Ultimate Driving Machine reputation that BMW has fostered over the years. But the latest spy clip from the Nürburgring suggests otherwise.
The Bavarian automaker has apparently been testing its new people mover on the Nordschleife, getting it ready to join the growing 2 Series family. And though it's wearing heavy camouflage, we can clearly see from the video below that it's cornering impressively flat - which bodes well for those who'll need to transport their expanding family but aren't prepared to give up on handling.
A Nimitz-class American aircraft carrier is big. Really, really big. After all, it has to be, in order to launch and recover a wide array of military aircraft. But when it's not catapulting F/A-18 Super Hornets and E-2 Hawkeyes into the wild blue yonder, what exactly can you use its 1,040-foot long flight deck for? Well, BMW seems to have an idea.
Now, obviously BMW hasn't paid Uncle Sam to convert the deck of the USS John C. Stennis into a racetrack (but what an idea!). That doesn't make this video of an Austin Yellow M4 slipping and sliding its way around the carrier deck any less entertaining. The video itself comes, weirdly considering the US aircraft carrier, from BMW of Canada, and we aren't really sure what the point of it is. There's no voiceover, or title or closing screens to lend the scene any context, and it seems unlikely that this sort of seemingly high-dollar video wouldn't be done sheerly for giggles. Whatever the reason for its existence, it's worth a watch.
Scroll down and have a look.
Over the last few years, it feels like BMW has looked at its lineup and decided to offer a vehicle in every possible segment that it can find, no matter how small. The company is finally showing some restraint, though, at least when it comes to the high performance M division. For example, don't expect to see an M4 Gran Coupe at your local BMW dealer in the future.
M GmbH sales chief Jörg Bartels told Cars Guide in Australia, "It was definitely considered, but there is no plan to build an M4 Gran Coupe." The sport sedan just wouldn't make financial sense, he said. BMW already builds the M3 and M4 at separate factories, adding a third for such a niche model would be too much. Plus, the M3 already fills out the segment.
If you wanted an M model with a bit more storage space in the back, Bartels dashed those dreams, as well. He said that there isn't an M3 Gran Turismo hatchback in the pipeline, either.
After over a year of speculation, BMW is finally officially announcing that it's building a factory in Mexico. The new plant will cost the German automaker roughly $1 billion US and will have a capacity of about 150,000 vehicles a year when complete. However, production won't begin there until 2019.
The new factory is being built near the city of San Luis Potosí, Mexico, with plans to employ about 1,500 people. Unfortunately, BMW is still mum about which models it's producing south of the border. Earlier rumors indicated the possibility of the 3 Series, 1 Series and maybe even Mini models there.
BMW says Mexico's multiple free trade agreements are a major factor in the choice of location of the plant. They make it possible for the automaker to ship models more cheaply to North America, parts of South America and the European Union. "The Americas are among the most important growth markets for the BMW Group. We are continuing our strategy of 'production follows the market,'" said Harald Krueger, the board's head of production, in the company's official announcement.