Even though BMW is making record bank this year, Chief Exec Helmut Panke is not psyched about the ninth place ranking BMW received in J.D. Power and Associates' study of initial vehicle quality. While newer BMWs are typically overloaded with myriad electronic gizmos, Panke said, while addressing the Automotive Press Association in Detroit, "There is no excuse…We have to improve our quality in order to live up to our premium positioning."  BMW also recently ranked second behind Porsche in a similar survey of customer satisfaction with brands' design, content, layout and performance, trouncing the quality leaders in these categories, suggesting that the qualities that make BMW the "Ultimate Driving Machine" are mutually exclusive to qualities that make a car the "Ultimate Non-Falling-Apart Machine." Panke also said, "We will never mean a boring BMW." Well, maybe making a vehicle with a high initial quality ranking would be boring. Did you ever think of that, Panke? In other completely unrelated news, Panke said a 1-Series model would be coming to the U.S. in 2006 or 2007, although not the hatchback offered in Europe.

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