Ask BMW: Ultimate Q&A Session with BMW

BMW Z4

Over the course of the press days (next Monday and Tuesday) at the Detroit Auto Show Todd and I will have an opportunity to interview a handful of key designers and executives at BMW including Martin Birkmann – Head of BMWNA Product Planning and Strategy/BMW Motorsport Manager. Martin is a true enthusiast at heart (he is a ‘Ring instructor on his vacations) as well as a strong factor in the decisions that influence what models, engines and options the North American market receives.

Obviously our heads are spinning with questions and topics for each. But we don ‘t have a monopoly on thoughtful and meaningful questions when it comes to BMW and the Motorsport Division. So we ‘d like to hear some of yours. Here ‘s how it works. In the comment section below, give us one or two questions that you ‘d like us to ask. At the end of the week, we will pick the very best and then feature them in each interview.

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  • A question that is close to my heart is whether the introduction of the 5 GT has truly killed off the 5er SportsWagon as he originally hinted at back in July.

  • roadkill

    I’d like to know about the future 3 and 4 cylinder turbo gas engines. Horsepower, torque, 0-60 times and mpg. The price of gas will probably rise back to $3-4 per gallon plus levels soon and a 1 series, 250 hp with 0-60 times in the low 5 second range and highway mpg in the mid 30’s would be very desirable.

  • Sagar

    I would like to know what in what direction will the ///M Division be heading in the future. (Example: Will they be focused on developing lighter, efficient, and more agile cars; or are they focused on generating more powerful vehicles via turbocharging technology?)

    Thanks, Sagar

  • Sagar

    (and ignore the 6th word in my sentence “what”)

  • James May

    You lucky boys.

    I would like to know what are the plans for BMW M after the 1 er gets the M treatment. Will there ever be a car that only carries the M badge.

  • Justin LaPearle

    My question involves the efficient dynamics concept and the M1 homage concept. Were these concepts design studies for a potential BMW competitor to the Audi R8? The internet chatter has been rampant following this rumor. When or if, will we see such a car?

  • adc

    I would like to know if the 1 series M car is going to come to the US and for what model years.

  • chad
    1. Comment of the reliability issues (HPFP) of the n54 powerplant and how this relates to the n55 as well as future FI applications in M model powerplants.

    2. Broad/conceptual discussion on what a sports car will encompass in ~10 years. What sort of powerplants will an ALMS/WTCC car have in 10 years? Will any N/A powerplants still exist? Will even an FI powerplant be outdated by then? Hybrid or full electric in Motorsport?

  • Adit Panchal

    My question would be: Why does BMW use red rear turn signals on some models but not others? Why do they feel the need to change them from amber which differs from the rest of the world? Amber rear turn signals are more distinguishable than red ones and would also reduce costs in maintaining inventory and ordering parts from suppliers. Even the NHTSA is considering mandating amber signals in the US: http://is.gd/5RI1D See the comments on that website for an overwhelming support of this.

    BMW prides themselves on superior safety features. Why do they skimp on something so basic such as this? US customers deserve the same safety features as the rest of the world.

  • chas58

    What happened to the plans to develop a light weight sports car (aka Z2) more on the lines of a Boxter or a Miata? the Z4 is beautiful, but leaves the ‘small, playful, sporty, affordable’ area untouched by BMW.

  • Micah

    What is the status of the rumored ///M division project to offer a lightweight (i.e, 1200-1300 kgs) sports car/coupe in the spiritual tradition of the E30 M3?

    I believe there is a real market for an ///M-developed simple, decontented, driving focused RWD coupe with a high-revving NA four banger, manual tranny, direct feelsome steering, & mechanical M diff.

  • Dean

    BMW AG has done such a good job with Rolls Royce and MINI. Will they be turning there attensions to M. I have heard there will be m only show rooms will there be m only cars. They have the know how to beat ferrari.

  • Will the aesthetic changes made on the M1 be conservative in terms of the headlights and controversial “pot belly” side skirts?

    Any solid details on the M1 engine that can be confirmed?

  • Howie_in_AZ

    What sort of drugs and/or alcohol was being imbibed when M authorized the X5M and X6M vehicles, or was it just a paperwork mixup that nobody double-checked?

  • ralf

    Request: Please make the CS concept car!

    1 Why doesn’t BMW sell the smaller (engine) cars in the US that they do sell in Europe?

    2 Why won’t BMW buy Volvo, so they can share more parts and share R&D costs. They also can provid better resistant against VW, who is getting bigger and bigger.

  • RJ

    I’d like to hear about one of my favorite BMW designs of the past….the E36-based Z3 and M Coupes!!!!!!

  • JonPD

    With BMW slightly moving the direction of the ///M Division by developing the very cars they swore to never develop before, what other deviations in ///M’s historical direction should we be watching for.

    I second the question about the rumors of the Z2. Also any chance of the e89 ever being produced with a fixed roof since they have developed one for racing. Still think the e89 being stripped of a lot of weight, with a fixed roof and the M3’s V8 would be hands down a dream come true. Although this would never happen as the M3’s rather portly weight would not likely like to be outclassed on the track by the Z4 lol.

  • Frank

    Two Questions. First, what are the chances that BMW will bring the diesel to the US in the 5 series?

    Second, Why did BMW go to a single turbocharger on the 535 engine versus two? Is the single as good, or is it better?

  • James May

    Jonpd if you were in charge of bmw after ww1 you would of shut down the company. We not allowed to build plane engines anymore so thats it. we cant do anything different. You have to move with the times.

    Mercedes and Porcshe had high power suvs. BMW felt that it cound not build a suv that desereved the m badge. Now they have suv’s that can lap as fast as a e46 m3.

    Dont forget were m started with the m1 mid engined 2 seater, what was there next car a 5 seater 4 saloon m5 wasnt that a move in historical direction. I bet you would of been against the E30 m3 because it was only a 4 pot and not a inline 6. Why dont people like change. Remeber were BMW started of as a engine builder then put its engines in bikes it also made. The first car to wear a BMW badge was a austin 7 built under license. This is BMW moving with the times, doing what its needs to stay independent and grow.

    BMW will build an z4 m when the m3 is at the end of it life cycle about mid 2012 or even earlier because BMW has an gt3 z4 with the engine from the m3 in, Under fia regs race cars and engines have to be based on the road version. Why would bmw not want the m z4 to be faster then the m3. The z3 m coupe was faster then the e36 m3, also the z4 m coupe was faster then the e46 m3.

  • James May

    if you can make a planned ghost coupe why not the 8 series cs

  • Gary Busey

    What is your definition of a successful car? – besides number sold

    Martin, how do you find that middle ground between the car that you would want and the car that the consumer wants?

  • chas58

    Questions:

    1) Will the current emphasis on turbo engines mean that ///M engines will focus more on torque (and peter out around 5,000rpm) or will they still maintain their rev happy natures with the turbos?

    2) What is the future of the left pedal clutch (and stick) at BMW and ///M? Will it be phased out for new technology or kept around for the purist?

  • Mike

    When BMW is going to bring efficient 2.0-3.0L diesels in 3 and 5 series, esp with xDrive? AFAIK Audi is selling half of A3 with 200hp TDI while 335d accounts for what? 2%? I.e. when can we have BMW handling and 30-35mpg?

  • JonPD

    Actually James I am all for change, change though has more than one direction. For me personally as BMW’s have continued to grow in size and weight they have moved ever closer to Japanese brands movements. While a lot of this I understand am I really that wrong to lust after a classic coupe with a monster engine that doesn’t have to bury the driver behind gameboy tricks to make the car handle despite is massive weight. Yes, I do appreciate that it can be done, I just long for the days of the classic e30. Lightweight cars that actually live up to the Ultimate driving machines in my world (not perfect I know).

    I just rather BMW could come up with their own path versus just follow along Mercedes dogma (see the X M’s)

  • Some questions I don’t really expect to be answered at this time:

    1) What’s the final word on KERS in the M5? Some reports stated that BMW would be hesitant to use the initially planned boost system because it only adds power, but doesn’t improve fuel economy.

    2) What’s the transmission of choice for the upcoming ///M models? I suppose manual transmissions will come to an end, sadly. Is DCT to stay for longer or are we seeing new techs like CVT?

    3) When will DPC be offered in RWD cars? I think it would even be an improvement over the mechanical LSD in the ///M models. Is this planned for the F10 M5 and/or for AG cars like the next 3-series?

  • chas58

    My question echos JohPD’s question.

    The 30 and e36 offer a nice bulletproof chassis and engine for spec racing. Current BMWs seem to focus more on luxury and technology. Are there any plans to bring to market a reliable (non turbo non technology laden) car that will appeal to BMW roots and lay the ground work for a potential spec series car?

    Is there even a role for a car like this in the modern BMW world?

  • Mike

    when will 2011 335i Sedans go on sale, and what engine will they have? I have heard conflicting reports.