BMW has for decades continued down the line of building rear-wheel drive sports orientated cars. This is evident from a base model 120d to a top of the range M6. Every BMW we have ever driven has had a sporty feel to it. Some purest argue that's a result of the company's commitment to rear-wheel drives, others think differently.
Nonetheless when you're in the business of selling cars, eventually it makes sense to break with tradition and do what's right for going forward. BMW currently has no purpose-built offerings to satisfy demand for light and small ultra efficient cars. Plus it also needs to meet stronger European CO2 emission targets that kick-start in 2012
This means building smaller, more compact cars and when you start doing that the time comes to move into a front-wheel drive setup. BMW development boss Klaus Draeger recently said the new front-wheel drive architecture will allow the German company to produce a variety of vehicles that are between 3800mm and 4300mm long.
Interestingly those measurements pretty much cover everything from Volkswagen's Fox, Polo, Golf, Beetle and Scirocco model lines. It seems then that BMW is going after the Volkswagen Group's share of the minicar, subcompact and compact market.
Although not officially confirmed, industry sources have speculated that when in full force the new architecture may underpin up to 20 different BMW and Mini model variants.
BMW CEO CEO Norbert Reithofer said "We expect the premium small-car segment to grow by 4 percent to 6 percent annually until 2020. "
He also believes his company can cut its CO2 fleet emissions by at least 25 percent by 2020.
When asked about the idea of BMW partnering with other manufacturers to create shared architecture, Mr Reithofer said “We will have to ask the question: What can we do on our own to create economies of scale? Once we have built our own modular platforms, we can approach others and ask them to participate".
The next few years should see BMW undergo a brand evolution. BMW Australia will next week launch the entry model to the X range with the BMW X1 hitting the market. BMW X1 20d and X1 23d will be the first two variants available for sale.