BMW’s M division could look really different in a few years.by Josh Conturo, on LISTEN 03:24
For nearly six decades ALPINA has been an independent company building modified BMWs. They were usually similar to the in-house M models with more power and occasionally different suspension and handling setups. However, the ALPINAs were designed with a more luxurious attitude, forgoing all-out power and speed. Now, with BMW officially bringing Alpina under its roof, the ultimate driving machine may be taking more and more steps towards luxury and customer customization.
BMW will own the rights to ALPINA
As of right now, ALPINA and BMW are in an agreement that allows ALPINA to do their thing and sell their cars through BMW dealerships. But, after the acquisition finishes, sometime around 2025, as that is when the legal agreement officially ends, ALPINA will be an in-house name with BMW owning all the rights to the company. Yet, weirdly, BMW will not own any shares in ALPINA.
BMW said, "The service, parts and accessories business for the existing and legacy BMW ALPINA vehicle portfolio will continue at the Buchloe location in the long term...As part of a strategic cooperation between the two companies, there will be a further expansion of the existing development services business for BMW out of Buchloe."
This move is similar to how Mercedes took over AMG in 1999, as AMG was and ALPINA technically still is an independent company. However, ALPINA sticks to the luxurious side, BMW’s AMG rival is the M division (technically called BMW M GmbH). So, presumably, ALPINA will be continuing to do just that.
Future of BMW and ALPINA
BMW M also has a new CEO, Frank Van Meel, who, for more than the last three and a half years, was in charge of BMW’s luxury operations. There are three main projects that Meel wants to achieve; making an M car still an M car, while also being completely electric, carrying over technology from its race cars into its production cars, and something called "expressive luxury."
That last one is the most head-turning. In an interview with Bimmertoday Meel said, "[expressive luxury] is about serving a growing demand for very expressive and very individual vehicle wishes."
That may involve ALPINA in the future of M cars to some degree (perhaps something of a merge between the two?), or it could mean BMW will focus on building vehicles more like the XM, a V-8 hybrid SUV that is expected to go on sale in 2023. The general goal of the XM is to seamlessly combine luxury and performance, two ideals that are essentially opposites.
Meel said, "the boom segment of our time is the SUV segment...we were still missing an extremely strong but also extremely extroverted model at the top of the M lineup. The demand for such vehicles is currently very high and that is why we are now also involved in this segment."
That is why the aforementioned "expressive luxury" movement in BMW is taking place; people are willing to pay for it and in turn, BMW makes loads of money.