BMW M’s new CEO, Frank Van Meel spent some time with us at the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show to talk about the future of the M brand. BMW’s sports division is seeing record sales year-after-year with a 40 percent increase in 2014 over the previous year. “Which means last year we sold 45,000 M and M Performance vehicles which is quite a lot,” van Meel says.
Hardcore enthusiasts demand more exclusive, limited cars, similar to what Mercedes has been doing with their Black Series. When asked about future M cars similar to the new M4 Concept GTS, van Meel says M is constantly looking at special models that are there to showcase innovative technologies.
So what’s the biggest challenge today for the M Division? Van Meel says staying at the top is the most difficult task, but also to figure out if there are more BMW platforms for pure M models that M can build on.
Van Meel’s favorite question is probably the all-wheel drive coming to M cars in the future. Being politically correct, the M boss has not revealed much on the M xDrive plans, but he did hint that M is looking into the topic. “First of all [M] it’s rear-wheel drive. If there is a need for additional technology for whatever reason, and that could be done, with a four wheel drive then it will be a rear-wheel drive with a bit more traction,” van Meel says.
How about a successor of the 1M? We all know the M2 is coming, we even know the unveil date, production dates and launch date, but van Meel won’t yet mention the “M2” name.” BMW sold 9,000 M235i units sold last year and that clears the path for a fully M version of that. “We’re keeping in mind that something like an 1M Coupe for the future, because in the community we have this strong wish for a successor to a car like that and we are thinking and a little bit working on something that might match that,” van Meel reveals.
The enthusiasts’ favorite topic - manual transmission - also came up during the interview. Van Meel says that M still has a significant number of customers driving manuals and if that number will not decrease in the future, the M engineers will continue building manuals.
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