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Do You Understand BMW’s Model Range?

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BMW executive admits that differences between current models can get “a bit muddy.”

There was a time when BMW's model line-up was relatively simple. Back then, when you walked into a BMW showroom you had a choice of three models depending on whether you wanted a small, mid-size, or large luxury sedan or coupe: the 3 Series, 5 Series, and 7 Series. Today, it isn't quite so simple as BMW now offers a wide variety of models catering to every niche imaginable, including Sports Activity Vehicles, Gran Turismo models, Sports Activity Coupes, Gran Coupes and more.

Speaking to AutoGuide about BMW's current model range, BMW Head of US Product Planning Ralph Mahler admitted differences between some models can get "a bit muddy." Luckily, however, the feedback BMW has received suggests customers aren't getting confused about the automaker's continually expanding range, which is good news for the brand.

Take the 3 Series sedan and 4 Series Gran Coupe, for example. They look very similar at first glance, but the differences are immediately apparent when you take them for a drive. "Of course, what we are trying to do is always to differentiate as much as possible and really tailor it to our customer needs." In this case, Gran Coupe models are designed to be sportier and more dynamic to drive. "So, they are more driving and handling oriented," Mahler explained, adding that customers should notice this distinction when they take a test drive.

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BMW will continue to offer a diverse line-up, but each model "has to make sense from a worldwide perspective," according to Mahler. It's for this reason BMW will never build a full-size, body-on-frame pickup truck because the market segment is simply too small.

Crossover sales, on the other hand, are showing no signs of slowing down, and BMW can't build them fast enough. Currently, sales for BMW cars and SUVs have a roughly 50-50 split, but crossover sales are increasing so this split could change. However, Mahler thinks the crossover craze will eventually go out of fashion. "I think once you reach, like, shares of 70 [percent] or something like that… most of the people again will say, 'I want to be different. I don't want to be one of this big crowd.' And then I think it will start to go in a different direction again."