BMW May Join The Micro Car Fray
( WCF ) - Fresh off recent success in India, BMW has announced the possibility of releasing a new micro car there. Their new concept programme would likely explore a truly luxury version of the micro car class. BMW India President Peter Kronschnabl confirmed that the company has already completed a study on a potential new product launch, but would not say what the company has planned.
According to the PTI news agency, Kronschnabl said, "I cannot say when the car would be launched in India. The market analysis for the launch is over and the discussions are on with the headquarters."
This past February, WCF reported on BMW redeveloping the classic Isetta bubble car, possibly with hybrid technology and high-performance petrol and diesel turbo engines. An all-electric city car is also a possibility. Our artist's rendering of the Isetta can be seen in the gallery. The Isetta, a highly successful microcar from the early 1950s, would likely be built on a platform that could realistically fight the Nano on its own. Add in the possibility of better performance and greener technologies and you could see a higher sticker price justified by a reduced operating cost.
The Indian press reported that Kronschnabl said a BMW micro car could cost around 2,000,000 Indian Rupees, or a bit over $49,000. However, it seems either the press misquoted the BMW executive, the executive misspoke, or the BMW Micro Car is not intended to compete in the same class as the Nano. It is pretty hard to imagine BMW selling a car slotted well below the 1-Series for the same price as a 535i Sedan.
After requesting clarification, a BMW spokesperson replied by e-mail, saying, "There are no plans to develop a Micro Car competing with the Tata Nano. Currently, BMW is thinking within a special project about several different ways and opportunities for the future mobility, but it's far too early to comment on any details, neither the size of these different concepts nor engine, price or anything like that."
The tiny Tata Nano squeezes four people into a car that retails for about $2,500. GM is supposedly working on a similar project in a Chinese joint venture. Their car would cost around $3,500. Toyota has recently hinted at entering the Micro Car Wars after announcing a huge expansion of their Bangalore, India, plant.
Kronschnabl spoke at an event marking the launch of the BMW M3 in the Indian market. After selling almost 1,400 units in India last year, BMW has authorized the increase of local production there to 3,000 units - a 76% increase. Of the BMW vehicles sold in India last year, 80% were locally made 3- and 5-series models.
In addition to the M3, BMW plans to further market the 6- and 7-series, the X3, X5, the 6 and 7 Individual Series, and other M models, according to a BMW statement released last month.