Up to 20 Models Could Be Developed From New BMW Front-Drive Platform


  • BMW Concept Active Tourer Picture

    BMW Concept Active Tourer Picture

    BMW is set to spawn many models from its new front-wheel-drive platform. | November 27, 2012

Just the Facts:
  • The front-wheel-drive platform underpinning the BMW Concept Active Tourer could spawn as many as 20 new models, BMW told Edmunds.
  • At this point, 10 to 12 of the new models have been approved, as BMW notes that the small-car premium segment will grow faster than other segments.
  • The front-drive Concept Active Tourer platform is known as ULK1 for "Unter Klasse" or entry level.

LONDON — The front-wheel-drive platform underpinning the BMW Concept Active Tourer could spawn as many as 20 new models, BMW told Edmunds.

At this point, 10 to 12 of the new models have been approved, as BMW notes that the small-car premium segment will grow faster than other segments. Names of the models and launch dates have not been revealed.

The front-drive Concept Active Tourer platform is known as ULK1 for "Unter Klasse" or entry level. BMW shook up the 2012 Paris Auto Show with the debut of the Concept Active Tourer, a front-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid with a new TwinPower Turbo 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, electric motor and lithium-ion battery.

BMW, which has staked much of its reputation on rear-wheel drive, said the Concept Active Tourer "presents a drive concept which is new to the BMW brand." The radical concept seemed to stand in stark contrast to BMW's adherence to rear-wheel drive in much of its lineup, except for four-wheel-drive offerings.

Ian Robertson, BMW's board member for sales and marketing, disclosed the multi-model plans for the front-wheel-drive platform.

Robertson said the decision to develop so many models had been taken "because the small-car segment will grow faster than other segments." Robertson says the company is also confident that "the premium segment will grow faster than the mass-market sector."

The Concept Active Tourer platform is being developed with two wheelbases, the longer providing the basis of a new front-drive BMW range that will complement the 1 Series, the shorter platform the basis for the next generation of Minis.

Combining the core mechanicals of two model ranges affords BMW much greater economies of scale, and is a key part of the group's aim of selling 2 million vehicles annually. Its 1.5-liter three-cylinder is part of a brand new modular engine family, code named B38. The family will eventually include four- and six-cylinder power units fueled by gasoline and diesel and feature parts-commonality of up to 60 percent.

Edmunds says: BMW's front-drive platform strategy should strengthen the financial fundamentals of its Mini brand besides boosting the marque's presence in the small-car market.

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