We've just returned from a Detroit Auto Show media roundtable with Klaus Draeger, member of the Board of BMW AG, Development, and he's helped shed some light on both some near- and far-term developments for BMW in the States.
Draeger confirmed that BMW has absolutely no plans to expand the 1 Series lineup in the U.S. with a hatchback variant like the new generation F20 range sold in Europe. While Draeger says that the 1 Series has done a "wonderful job" for BMW, he notes that the model is positioned very differently in the U.S. and Europe. In the States, the 1 Series is a car for hardcore driving enthusiasts, but in Europe, with its fuller range of (primarily lower-power) engines and bodystyles, the 1 Series is positioned as more of a family car – an entry point to the brand (70 percent of European 1 Series buyers are new to BMW).
In the short-term, Draeger confirmed that the 740i six-cylinder model will receive the company's xDrive all-wheel drive system before the end of the year. The system is currently available on the V8-powered 750i, but with the biggest market for the 7 Series being the New York tri-state area, not having the additional foul weather performance of xDrive in the I6 has left a vacuum in the model lineup.
In more general terms, Draeger says we can expect to see electric power steering and start/stop systems in all BMWs, and indeed, a number of models in the company's portfolio already feature the fuel-saving technologies.
Also on the fuel-saving front, Draeger says that X5 diesel sales are going well in the States, accounting for roughly one-third of sales. Despite that, the X6 will not get a diesel variant, as the current model only has two or three years left in its life and it wouldn't make sense to introduce one this late in life. However, he wouldn't rule one out for the next-gen X6, nor was he willing to preclude a diesel's inclusion in the new X3. The new generation 3 Series and current 5 Series are also likely candidates for oil burning motivation, but they won't happen this calendar year.
When asked if BMW is happy with X6 sales, Draeger said "Yes. Absolutely." As a followup question, Draeger was asked if it then made sense to do a similar variant on the X3, and he said "Yes. Yes." Unfortunately, he wasn't at liberty to elaborate.
Finally, BMW officially announced yesterday that its smallest crossover, the X1, will go on sale here soon (likely not before a mid-cycle refresh), but Draeger maintains that there is "no real synergy" to justify bringing production to the U.S.