LUCA CIFERRI

Expect another number surprise from BMW

Luca Ciferri is Automotive News Europe's Editor-in-Chief.Luca Ciferri is Automotive News Europe's Editor-in-Chief.
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BMW is expanding the numbering system it uses to identify its models.

The company will introduce a coupe named the 4 series next year. In a few years, expect another new number -- the 2 series.

The role of the 2 series will be the same of the 4 series:

    • To boost BMW's brand image

    • To charge higher prices for coupe and cabriolet variants of the mainstream sedans, and to win higher resale values.

BMW's sedans and hatchbacks, the 1 series, 3 series, 5 series and 7 series, will keep their odd numbers, as will the X1, X3 and X5 SUV/crossovers.

Even numbers will continue to be used for sportier SUV/crossovers in any BMW size class: The X6 will be joined by the smaller X4 in 2014 and by a more compact X2 later.

The 4 series replaces the coupe version of the 3 series, which accounted for about 10 percent of total 3-series sales last year.

With the 4 series, BMW gives its best-selling coupe its own identity. When the 3 series was born in 1975, the two-door variant had a similar design to the four-door. In 1991, the two-door was given styling that differentiated its side view from the four-door. It was also named the 3-series coupe, but it was still a close relative of the 3-series sedan in its front styling and basic underpinnings.

The 4 series has a wider chassis, lower roof and a totally independent personality. It is also a stunning looking coupe

And BMW enthusiasts have a new number to dream about. The super sporty M3 will be replaced by the M4. BMW has not released powertrain details for the 4 series, but looking at the length of the 4-series concept that will debut at the Detroit auto show in January, I bet it will still have a V8 under the hood.

You can reach Luca Ciferri at lciferri@crain.com.

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