During the company’s annual accounts press conference that took place yesterday, the BMW Group had two important points to make clear, both confirmations of already known plans. First, BMW will switch to a single rear-wheel-drive platform in the near future, starting with the upcoming 2016 BMW 7 Series. Second, an array of plug-in hybrids is expected in the next couple of years, starting with the recently unveiled X5 eDrive .
"The new rear-wheel-drive architecture is virtually ready for series production and will be implemented in our future models." said Dr. Friedrich Eichiner, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Finance, during the presentation. In translation, the aluminum-intensive platform used by the upcoming 7 Series will trickle down to the 2017 5 Series , the next-generation 3 Series, and large BMW SUVs. In short, BMW will base its entire lineup on just two architectures – RWD-based models on the same platform as the upcoming 7 Series and FWD-based models on the UKL platform from Mini.
BMW is preparing a series of plug-in hybrids following the X5 eDrive. A 3 Series eDrive will follow by the end of the year, and the next-generation 5 Series and 7 Series after that.
With BMW hard at work to keep its luxury sales crown by 2020, it’s no wonder that it is looking to simplify the way it builds cars, especially since a major lineup increase is expected in the upcoming years. A reduction in the number of platforms used translates into efficient use of resources, but there could also be a downside.
With most of BMW’s models using similar parts, there is an increased possibility that if a supplier messes something up, a greater number of cars could be affected, possibly resulting in recalls or a even stop-sales notices to rectify the problem. As Audi and Mercedes Mercedes-Benz are hot on BMW BMW’s tail in terms of sales, I’m actually not much of an optimist concerning BMW’s near future, although it has never been short on surprises over the years.