The current 3 Series GT won’t be replaced when it comes to the end of its life cycle, and has already been discontinued locally. Picture: SUPPLIED
The current 3 Series GT won’t be replaced when it comes to the end of its life cycle, and has already been discontinued locally. Picture: SUPPLIED

American magazine Automobile says the BMW Group is set to slash its model range after the car division’s earnings fell 22% in 2018.

BMW CFO Nicolas Peter is looking to slash its exposure to the unprofitable lower-priced segments, hack away at development costs by using simulators instead of physical prototypes and simplifying model line-ups and engine options.

Models Peter has put under the microscope include the expensive-to-build rear-drive small cars like the 2 Series and, in a move that may hit BMW’s sales figures, the entry-level, higher-volume versions of the 3 Series.

The list of models said to be heading for oblivion includes the 3 Series Gran Turismo, the 2 Series Gran Tourer and Cabriolet, the 6 Series Gran Tourer and the X2 crossover.

Some surprising potential victims include recently launched or revised models like both of the two-door 8 Series models, the short wheelbase 7 Series limousine and even the Z4, which was only built in the first place because Toyota did the heavy financial lifting.

The ground-breaking i3 and i8 innovation models will also be axed, and though BMW hints there are replacements for both, they won’t be even remotely like-for-like.

Code-named U15, the i3 “replacement” is due in 2022 as both a BEV and a fuel-cell EV, and will even sport a long-wheelbase version for the Chinese market.

The i8’s replacement, code-named i12 so far, will be based around the current car, but will be shorter, lighter and more powerful.

Also slated for a 2022 debut, the i12 will use a 150kW electric motor, the gruntiest version of the 2.0l turbocharged four-cylinder petrol BMW motor. Regardless, it won’t be the grunter the proposed i8M or i9 models were going to be, falling at least 150kW short of both proposals, but it will be cheaper to develop, which seems important at BMW nowadays.

The iNext will almost certainly carry the i6 badge into production, while using three different powertrain options.

The first will use a 250kW motor to give it rear-drive and a 63kWh battery to power it, with a 400km range. The next step will have 320kW of total power, with a 92kWh battery pack and the flagship version with a 150kW front motor and a 250kW rear motor, plus the option of a 103kWh battery.

The surge in big SUVs will continue, with the X7 locked down and the BMW board approving a large X8 coupe crossover (which should look nothing like the X7, so there’s that), while the 8 Series will continue after this model cycle as a four-door coupe only.

BMW has been hammered by the US-China trade war, and its share price has plunged from €122 to €65 since 2015 despite consistent profitability.

The increasing love affair with heavier SUVs has left carmakers desperately exposed to the 2020-21 EU7 emissions laws, which will force them to drop their fleet emissions by 25% in the next 12 months.

Peter’s plan, which has already run afoul of BMW’s development boss Klaus Fröhlich, is to slash about €13bn from the development budget by cutting both prototypes and about every second engine/gearbox combination.

The pushback from the development department has been because BMW is entering one of its trickiest phases, with nobody quite sure what the BEV/plug-in hybrid/internal-combustion model mix will be and having to deliver all three at the same time.

It’s also tasked with delivering the iNext BEV, plus next year’s iX3 SUV at the same time, and continuing its research into driving autonomy.

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