BMW/MINI Wary of Mercedes Partnership

Reports of BMW and Mercedes partnering to make everything from small cars to major components is like watching a tennis match. Every week seems to bring new statements either confirming or refuting the partnership. This week BMW is the one being cautiously pessimistic with BMW CEO claiming the brand is too valuable to be tied up with Mercedes too overtly. Here ‘s a quote from this week ‘s Automotive News:

“There are clear limits. The BMW brand, which one study has valued at $24 billion, must not be diluted or the brand identity damaged, ” BMW ‘s Norbert Reithofer told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview.

No cost savings could possibly be great enough to warrant ruining the core of a brand, he explained.

Last week, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche pushed for a broader alliance with BMW during an interview with Reuters, saying there were in principle only a few areas where a cooperation was out of the question.

Specifically when it comes to the MINI, BMW is concerned about keeping brand values front and center – notably performance. As we reported last year, BMW looked seriously at building the the next-generation MINI on an Alfa Romeo (Mito) platform. Eventually they scrapped the concept after realizing that they couldn ‘t guarantee the resulting car would look or drive MINI enough.

As a MINI enthusiast it ‘s a great thing to hear that BMW is so concerned about the MINI brand and the final product considering the constant drive towards profits from automakers.

However it is worth noting that BMW is still strongly considering continuing their engine manufacturing relationship with PSA. As with the current MINI petrol engine, the idea is for the BMW to design the engine and build it in cooperation with PSA for greater economies of scale. Of course this will be in addition to offering some range of engines also destined for the next generation 1 Series as we reported last week.

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  • JonPD

    Think BMW is approaching this nicely, I still think Mercedes has a lot more to gain from BMW than the other way around. Nice to see the Mini platform kept in the sight of BMW while its trying to craft its future.

    Still chuckling somewhat that a MINI SUV is considered more a of Mini than one developed with the MiTo platform, a car that can walk away from a JCW Mini.

  • Buchloe

    JonPD,

    Yes MiTo is more like it than SUV, but I don’t understand why are so many people into this Alfa.

    Sure, it looks cool, but it’s Alfa for pit’s sake. Alfa isn’t what it was before FIAT took over. The character of those cars (overall bettering even BMW’s own) has gone out the window together with the rear wheels drive (I guess after Alfa 75).

    I’ll give it to them, they still make good looking cars, and they still have excellent engines (GTA’s especially), but suspension settings are horrible (check out 8C tests, 147 GTA tests etc), wallowy, even clumsy. On GTA’s they did not even offer LSD!!!! 250ps through front wheels and flimsy chassis and no LSD!!!! Nobody else does that….

    They got over the rust problem, but reliability is still an issue. Europeans know: their repairs depts are notoriously bad, don’t care about keeping the customers at all. Repairs are expensive and something is likely to go wrong for sure with Alfa (anything requiring electricity usually). Their resale values are laughable, you pretty much are stuck with the car until it dies or otherwise you loose heaps of money (total opposite from MINI). Why would things change if they start selling Alfa’s in US?

    And for now (until GTA comes out and I hope it will have LSD or something along those lines), the top model has mere 155hp.

    I’ll take MINI JCW over MiTo any day. My opinion.

    Now, Renault Clio RenaultSport (the new 200), with 2.0l 203hp is a whole different story. If they offered it in US, as it is quite a bit cheaper, I would probably be my choice if I was looking for a small fun and fast hatch.