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BMW: Branching out but keeping it simple

Date: 02 September 2014   |   Author:


Simple plans

But these new models do increase the complexity of the line-up, which is why BMW is now looking at how to address the swelling number of lines in its brochure.

"We now have over 500 individual models, but we're looking at the ultimate range breadth, the number of models and the way they are listed - but we don't want to hamper our overall benefit," states Bristow. "Models were introduced to ensure choice and RV recognition where the product requires it, such as with Business Navigation fitted, but we're potentially now at the level where we are concerned it's slightly too complex for people when doing things like picking benchmark cars."

BMW lists the navigation options separately for its models, giving it a higher number of different entries on its price list, but chooses to do so as some leasing companies can't manually apply an RV uplift if the model isn't individually listed.

"We have a specific review we're undertaking to reduce the complexity," reveals BMW's corporate sales boss. "We're looking to come up with some fairly significant results in the short term - this year for sure. There are some quicker wins and some more strategic thoughts on how to reduce complexity without reducing choice and the benefits."

BMW was the brand that pioneered the move towards large-scale CO2 reduction, but in recent times, rivals  have caught up and in some cases passed BMW for ultimate low-emission offering.

"Our technology has been around for a long time. We've actually got 166 models under 130g/km, so the breadth of range that can be adopted is massive," says Bristow. "We don't have a lynchpin that acts as a showcase - we have a breadth of technology.

"What we can't forget is the driving experience that goes with these models," he adds, questioning whether rival brands would be able to combine low emissions, performance and driver enjoyment, while also hinting that further developments are in the pipeline. BusinessCar reported in late 2011 at the launch of the latest 3-series that the company is aiming to get the model below 100g/km during its current life cycle.

As a separate brand, Mini is receiving increasing attention from BMW's fleet team, and last year the firm appointed a specific Mini UK corporate development manager in the form of James Morrison.

"Mini is a big corporate focus - and a key focus for the network is investing in corporate as a brand - and a sensible choice for the corporate sector" says Bristow. "Mini has been extremely popular in retail; now it's entirely appropriate for corporate, especially with the new three-cylinder engines and refinement you can do 200 miles in a Mini and get out feeling fresh."

Plus, there are more models appropriate for the fleet sector coming, with a five-door Mini hatchback due before the end of the year - first pictures will appear in BusinessCar's 17 June issue - while the Clubman Concept shown earlier this year hints at a more regular five-door layout for the second-generation Clubman designed to rival the likes of VW's Golf.