BMW Didn't Make The Same Mistake As Mercedes When Designing The New 5 Series

Design / 19 Comments

BMW has a clear strategy, and it works.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz are taking two wildly different design approaches when it comes to electric vehicles, and CarBuzz recently had the opportunity to sit down with Domagoj Dukec to find out why that is.

Dukec is the head of BMW design, and he had a fairly frank answer for why BMW opted to use the same design for the 7 Series and the i7, and now the 5 Series and i5.

"[With Mercedes] you drive an S-Class, or if you want electric, it's something different. You have to choose an EQS. Yes, there's an 'S' in the name, but in China, people say, 'I want an S Class, and I'll pay more [to get it],'" said Dukec. "With the 5 Series and the 7 Series, BMW gives you that choice."


It's a not-so-subtle dig at Mercedes-Benz and its EQ models. If you look at the Mercedes-Benz range, you'll see that the traditional combustion cars are made using one design language, while the EQ models all appear to be inspired by half a boiled egg but in different sizes.

For illustrative purposes, have a look at the image block below. You'll see the S-Class that Dukec refers to next to its electric alternative, the EQS. There are similarities, but they're not the same car. There is only one real S-Class, and that's what people want. The point is better illustrated using the 5 Series and i5's direct rivals, the E-Class and EQE.

The new E-Class debuted earlier this year, and the design is quite interesting, with obvious throwbacks to previous generations. The EQE, however, looks the same as the EQS, just 20% (ish) smaller.

BMW learned this lesson the hard way. It's easy to forget that Bimmer was one of the EV pioneers, launching the i3 a decade ago. It was a wild, funky design, and customers did not respond well.

Mercedes Benz
Mercedes Benz
Mercedes Benz
Mercedes Benz

Dukec explained that when customers started becoming interested in EVs, they would ask, "why does it have to look different [to your ICE products]? I'm the same person; I want the same experience and have the same life." The i3's poor sales impacted the balance sheets, and the share price dropped.

"We believe the strategy is to tell our customers they don't have to give up something if you drive an electric car. The 7 Series [and 5 Series] are the only cars where you don't have to consider luxury or experience when choosing the powertrain," explained Dukec. In short, you get the same 5 Series, whether powered by gas or electricity.

Whether BMW is on the right track remains to be seen. We'll have to visit this topic once all these cars, which are relatively new across the board, have been on sale for a few months.


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