© Mark Stehrenberger
BMW is in the midst
of a self-revolution that will likely impact American pickup truck buyers
- at least on the luxury end of the market.
Earlier this year
BMW introduced the X5, its first foray into the American truck market.
BMW considers the X5 a key product for North America and while it may
look like an SUV, BMW prefers their own Teutonic nomenclature calling
the X5 a sports-activity vehicle. Whatever you call it, the X5 has been
a raging success for BMW selling out almost the entire first year of production
well in advance of its arrival at dealerships and scoring very high in
initial customer satisfaction surveys.
Contrary to the success
of the X5, BMW is facing the recent and embarrassing loss of its Rover
Brand - as in the Range Rover line of SUVs and the little known Rover
car brand only sold in Europe - because of its failure to meet financial
goals since it acquired the struggling British automobile maker back in
The BMW brand, by
itself, is still very profitable but in these days of industry consolidation,
like the DaimlerChrysler merger, BMW has to fight tooth and nail to maintain
and grow its market share. To do this BMW
is seeking to increase its total car and truck output from 751,272 units,
sold last year, to over 1,000,000 automobiles in the coming years. How
will this increase occur? Through the introduction of new models and classes
As a very possible
new addition to its lineup, BMW is seriously considering a luxury pickup
truck that would follow on the sales success of the X5.
Sources reveal that
BMW is already collaborating on the design of this new pickup between
its home studios in Munich, Germany and, more importantly, at its Designworks/USA
subsidiary, an industrial design firm located in Newbury Park, California.
Designworks/USA was very influential in the design of the X5 and latest
generation 3-Series car and would be best equipped to tackle a pickup
truck. The truck would be produced at the Spartanburg Plant in South Carolina
which can be rapidly expanded to handle new model lines.
Two variants of pickup
truck would be produced - the 'traditional' extended cab version, as pictured
above, and a four door, short bed version similar in concept to the Explorer
Sport Trac. Both trucks would arrive with standard full-time, all-wheel
drive with traction control and a choice of a 3.0L (225 hp I6) or 4.4L
(282 hp V8) engine.
In addition to once
again entering a new automotive segment and the expected increase in total
unit sales resulting from a pickup truck in the family portfolio, BMW
would also realize something the American manufacturers have known for
a long time. Pickup trucks are among the most profitable vehicles to manufacture
averaging over $7000 profit per truck on some of the full size models.
Profit is expected to be even higher per vehicle on the luxury side of
the pickup truck market segment - probably touching or exceeding $10,000
BMW has the chance
to move into the luxury pickup truck market while it's still in its infancy.
The Lincoln Blackwood
won't arrive until this fall at the earliest and Cadillac
isn't expected to compete until early next year with its Avalanche derivative.
Mercedes is still debating whether
they will offer their own entry but is not believed to be as far along
in the design process as BMW.