There once was a time when BMW only produced a handful of its models in high-performance M guise. There was the M3, the M5, and that was pretty much it. Now, however, it offers M models based on the 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series, X5 and X6. And that's only expected to grow.

The first on the docket, according to BMW North America CEO (and former M chief) Ludwig Willisch in speaking with TheDetroitBureau.com, will be an M7. The Bavarian automaker has long resisted going down the same road as the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG and Audi S8, but that's slated to change in the near future. But while the X5 M and X6 M have been hot sellers, Willisch rules out the possibility of M versions of the smaller X1 and X3 crossovers, as well as bringing the M550d xDrive super-diesel sport-wagon (or presumably its crossover counterparts) to North America.

Of course BMW could opt to apply a similar sub-M formula to the 7 Series like it's doing with the M135i. Either way, BMW is counting on the reduced cost and labor involved in manufacturing carbon fiber components for the viability of both its performance vehicles and its environmentally-friendly i range.

As our compatriots at the Bureau note, the engineers at McLaren needed some 3,000 hours of labor to produce the carbon fiber components for the McLaren F1 over a decade ago. By the time it started building the SLR for Mercedes-Benz, it had cut that down to 400 hours. And with the new MP4-12C, it takes them less than 6 hours. As a result, costs have come down too, resulting in a lower street price for each successive model: $1 million, $400,000 and $250,000, respectively. And that's a model on which other automakers – like BMW – can seek to capitalize.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 23 Comments
      Aaron Schwarz
      • 19 Hours Ago
      It would be cool if they offered and "efficiency" or "Green" package upgrade to the lines, that gave weight reducing parts, ICE efficiency upgrades that boost fuel economy (titanium valves, smoother porting, polishing and friction/ spinning mass reduction), better aerodynamics, LRR tires, lighter aerodynamic wheels, reduce unsprung weigh in suspension, slightly lower stiffer ride, energy efficient alternator/ battery system ect, stop start, ect.
        skierpage
        • 19 Hours Ago
        @Aaron Schwarz
        Indeed, Lexus needs to get a clue and sell 60 mpg hybrids, instead of trying to sell a less-efficient version of a Toyota with a fancier interior. The European "EfficientDynamic" and "Blublahblah" model lines implement your idea. For whatever reason, the manufacturers don't offer them in the USA. Possibly because there aren't CO2 taxes here and on straight EPA mpg/MPGe they remain woefully behind the Prius & Volt.
          Aaron Schwarz
          • 19 Hours Ago
          @skierpage
          I agree with what you said about the Lexus Group's utilization of HSD for performance rather than better fuel economy. One way or the other, the advanced Start Stop/ Anti Idle/ Regen Break capacity of the HSD system, along with its other emissions reduction technologies makes each gallon of gas burned in a Lexus Hybrid far less toxic in terms of the emissions released.
      goodoldgorr
      • 19 Hours Ago
      Im interrested to buy a carbon fiber car in 2020-2022 approx. A used car made in 2013-2015 approx with a hydrogen fuelcell. Carbon fiber is not more costly then steel and is better in everything like weight advantage, easier to mold, more rigid and rust free. The drive should be better with faster acceleration, better breaking, better road holding. Less damages in case of accident with easier repairs. All cars since 1900 should have been done with carbon fiber instead of rusty steel but car manufacturers are own by big oil that is there only to make money with el-cheapo temporary products like 99.9% of the cars actually sold. We been steal by steel merchants.
        DarylMc
        • 19 Hours Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        It's good to have a dream. I think EZEE is still waiting for his flying car.
      Rick
      • 19 Hours Ago
      When we start to see the popular versions of cars & trucks like this coming to the market place, then the hybrid boom will take off. Gotta say l would buy a 100 MPG Via Motors Silverado E-REV in an instant if it was offered in the UK, but a boring dull Volt is not my cup off tea. Most folk would still buy a prestigious 72 MPG BMW 5 Series or a 80 MPG BMW 3 Series Efficeint Dynamics diesel that has the best handling in the world, than pay a bit extra for a Volt when the push comes to a shove, Once we start to see popular models with a hybrid version, the hybrid boom will arrive. Volt should have been an exclusive only Caddy Volt but still sold at the same price to give folk in the Volt buying income bracket something exclusive & special that can't be brought at Chevy, and when the cost of the technology started to come down or peak oil hard to pull out the ground/Chinese India car buying oil burning starts to impact on fuel prices then bring the on Chevy Hybrids mainstream. GM are hapless they do everything wrong, yes l would buy a RWD Caddy Volt, but a FWD Chevy Volt not ever ever, not in a million years
        Aaron Schwarz
        • 19 Hours Ago
        @Rick
        I agree that efficient dynamics is a strong value added selling point. Improved performance with substantially improved fuel economy adds a lot of value! That is why mass reduction, friction reduction and slipper aerodynamic modifications make a lot of sense! I think BWM's efficient dynamics platform is the first really cool thing to come out of the German automotive industry since Dr. F. Porsche developed the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid back in 1901!
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 19 Hours Ago
      Oh, they're talking about carbon fiber, so that means it's green. Right? ;)
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 19 Hours Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        It also means more expensive, and vastly more difficult to repair.. It's particularly relative and subjective on here. That is a problem. This site doesn't know it's audience. We are not interested in a BMW 'm' car just because it has carbon fiber parts.
          Aaron Schwarz
          • 19 Hours Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Do you have any idea how much it costs to repair human bodies parts that are damaged in vehicle accidents? Composite vehicles have the unique advantage of safely dissipating more mechanical energy during an accident. Modular construction can also help to reduce the costs of vehicle repairs in composite vehicles. You should not poo poo mass reduction as a method for improving the overall dynamics of a vehicle. Lighter vehicles produce less emissions Less Tire Wear Less Brake Dust Less Road Wear Less Fuel Less Tail Pipe Smog Weight reduction also enables a vehicle to accelerate, decelerate and handle better. I completely agree that aluminum is a more cost effective alternative to steel for structural vehicle component use: your example of bicycle price premiums on carbon frames is a partially flawed on, as part of that carbon price premium comes from retail market gouging of consumers of carbon bikes. That said, you can find rip off over priced aluminum and steel bikes too. It is worth noting that there are composites other than carbon, that can be used to make the interior plastic panels of a vehicle thinner and lighter, while retaining their strength and durability. Shaving weight off of the moving parts in a cars drive-train can also dramatically improve performance/ efficiency. The connecting rods, cam-shafts, valves, pistons, the head and the block: by reducing friction and mass within the moving parts of an engine, they become better all around! "Our ignorance is not nearly so vast as our failure to use what we already know"
        Letstakeawalk
        • 19 Hours Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Moving towards CFRP means lighter cars, which means more efficient cars. Green is a relative and subjective term.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 19 Hours Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          "This article is clearly designed for autoblog and it's talking more about how many new M models there will be..." That's what you get for reading the summary instead of the actual article: "Willisch said he also expects the maker to eventually make extensive use of strong and lightweight carbon fiber, perhaps even in such models as BMW’s best-seller, the 3-Series." "To maximize performance and range while minimizing the size of the battery packs in the two vehicles, BMW will make extensive use of carbon fiber, primarily for the bodies of the i3 and i8 models." "BMW is investing heavily in the development of carbon fiber hoping to bring down its cost, said Willisch, during a conversation with TheDetroitBureau.com. The challenge is to sharply reduce the complexity of the manufacturing process – but he hinted at significant advances." "If BMW can achieve similar breakthroughs, Willisch suggested, the maker hopes to start using the fuel-saving material in more mainstream models – perhaps taking carbon fiber all the way down the line to the 3-Series. Even if carbon fiber remains out of reach, he stressed, BMW is making “lightweighting” one of its key goals as it faces both customer and regulatory demands for better fuel economy." Try delving a little deeper in order to get the bigger picture. Yes, BMW is planning to expand their M range - but the part of the article that appeals to those of us who are interested in automakers' efforts to produce more efficient vehicles are very happy to read that not only is BMW focusing on M performance, but that they are also planning on bringing that same material engineering expertise to their mainstream and alt-fuel cars.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 19 Hours Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Well actually the article summary here mentions none of that. This article is clearly designed for autoblog and it's talking more about how many new M models there will be, hence, not talking to the audience. Mass produced carbon fiber is still extremely expensive compared to equivalent aluminum pieces. You're a bicyclist, have you not seen the cost of carbon fiber stuff vs. aluminum? the bike industry has produced carbon fiber bits in very high quantities and the cost is still super high. Reducing overall vehicle mass is a great pursuit. But increasing the cost to the point where fewer and fewer people can afford it, kinda negates your effort, and makes the economics no longer make any sense at all. Would you pay $5,000-$10,000 extra to get an MPG or two? Most people won't even pay that premium for a hybrid that will get them an additional 5-20mpg.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 19 Hours Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Aerodynamics are actually the major factor in efficiency of any vehicle. Lower weight helps when you are accelerating or climbing a hill, but only hurts you in terms of tire friction otherwise. Losing a hundred pounds or two by spending thousands of dollars on carbon fiber parts is not gonna pay off. Aluminum is the better route, costing a fraction of what said carbon fiber part would cost. It sounds cool, but the price to benefit ratio is way off.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 19 Hours Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          "It sounds cool, but the price to benefit ratio is way off." The whole point of the article is how economies of scale are dramatically reducing the cost of CFRP parts, so that they can be used economically on mainstream models. "Lower weight helps when you are accelerating or climbing a hill, but only hurts you in terms of tire friction otherwise." So, you don't think reducing overall vehicle mass is a worthwhile pursuit? If the automakers can source CFRP parts at a competitive cost, why not utilize them?
          Aaron Schwarz
          • 19 Hours Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Mass reduction can make a huge reduction in a vehicles lifetime fuel economy. Steel is the major problem in most vehicles: while it is highly recyclable, easier to repair and very strong, it is also super dense and heavy. Fiber Reinforced Plastics have a lot of potential for mass reduction, while still maintaining safety. Aluminum is another great material alternative to steel for large structural components, engine blocks/ heads: A thin cheap mass produced titanium exhaust header / aluminum exhaust system can also shave off a grip of mass. Belt free engines with a combination (single starter alternator); start stop will also help a lot. There are many feasibly low hanging fruit the BMW group can aim for: the real win is that mass reduction improves handling, braking performance, acceleration and fuel economy simultaneously!
      skierpage
      • 19 Hours Ago
      The Tesla Roadster is/was the cheapest production car made with all carbon-fiber body panels (from French supplier Sotira). I assume the BMW i3 will beat it.
        Rotation
        • 19 Hours Ago
        @skierpage
        What about the Corvette Z06?
          skierpage
          • 19 Hours Ago
          @Rotation
          The Z06 comes with "wide carbon fiber front fenders and carbon fiber floor panels." There's an "Optional carbon fiber hood and "CFZ" carbon fiber package, with carbon fiber roof, rocker extensions, front splitter and ZR1-style rear spoiler.", but I think that still leaves it with ordinary doors and a few other panels.
      Rick
      • 19 Hours Ago
      Dreamliner is 20% more fuel efficient than a B767 by using lighter composites everywhere including primary structures, the only drawback being delamination over time, and it hides damage, when you can hit it with a hammer it will bounces off the panel without a dent but it could be hiding a lot of internal damage, not so good on a primary structure. Racing cycles are made of carbon fibre and if you ding them in an accident the frame is normally a write-off and can be prohibitively expensive to repair.
        Aaron Schwarz
        • 19 Hours Ago
        @Rick
        Good points about some of the problems with laminated composite structures~ for the occupant safety thought it must be noted that composites dissipate more energy safely during a collision : and with that in mind the cost of repairing a persons hand can easily eclipse the price of even and exotic carbon fiber race car.
        goodoldgorr
        • 19 Hours Ago
        @Rick
        That's why im interrested to buy used instead of new. In case the whole package is not good when introduce to the market then i will know it later on, so no need to rush for something new that look appealing but can be deceiving over time. So if it come to the market in 2015 then in 2020 i will take a serious look at it. Better be early for buying bids. The ones that paniked bought leafs and teslas but i guess they were wealty and politically engaged instead of touph customer like me. Remember customers are always right so lets consume like mad but only on miraculous products that cost next to nothing, last long without fuel cost.
      Larry Cable
      • 19 Hours Ago
      bring the M550d Touring to N.A Please
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