BMW's forward thinking
November 14, 2009
BMW is reportedly on the verge of abandoning its long-held policy of producing only rear-wheel-drive vehicles.
The company, which has previously dismissed front-drive vehicles as inherently less dynamically capable, is rumoured to be readying a new front-drive mini car dubbed the 0-Series. Britain's Auto Express says the vehicle will fill a gap between the entry-level 1-Series and the British-built but BMW-owned Mini.
The car would continue a growing trend among European companies towards compact city cars with prestige badges. French brand Citroen has launched an up-market sub brand, called DS, which it will use to market small but well-equipped cars with big price tags. It will also help BMW cope with the threat from fast-growing German rival Audi, which is readying a prestige city car called the A1.
Late last year, BMW confirmed it was working on a range of city cars under the working title of "Project I". The "I" moniker pays homage to the Isetta, the quirky "bubble" car (pictured) that BMW made under licence in the 1950s.
Although the range is likely to launch with a range of ultra-efficient diesel and petrol engines — potentially three-cylinder units — the company has hinted that an all-electric version will follow later. The car could go into production as early as 2012.