BMW benefits from confused 1-series owners

Luca Ciferri is an Automotive News staff reporter based in Turin, Italy.
Believe it or not, 80 percent of BMW 1-series owners believe they are driving a front-wheel-drive car.

Given that today is March 22, I promise this is not an early April Fools' Day joke.

BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer shared the mind-boggling statistic during a call with analysts following the release of the company's 2009 financial results last week.

The comment came after an analyst asked whether the German automaker risked confusing customers with the addition of fwd BMWs to a lineup that features only rear-drive models.

Reithofer said he is not worried about making the change, but he did admit that the survey results on the 1-series came as “quite a surprise” to BMW.

Customers obviously are not turned off by the thought of owning a front-drive BMW, which means the German premium brand has a good chance to succeed with its plan to sell up to 1 million fwd BMW and Mini brand cars by the middle of this decade.