The battle for the top spot in luxury car sales over the next decade likely will be decided by who wins the largest share of the expanding market for smaller premium cars. Current No. 1 BMW believes its new front-wheel-drive architecture will give it a competitive edge against German rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Both automakers have vowed to overtake their Munich-based competitor.
BMW says its new fwd architecture, known internally as ULK, will be key to the company's future growth. Company executives dismiss complaints from the brand's traditional followers that fwd is a step too far from BMW's rear-wheel-drive heritage.
"In the '90s we broke with tradition when we began selling SUVs along with our sedans," Frank Niederlaender, the company's product manager for front-wheel drive, told Automotive New Europe in an interview. "Customers realized they could get the driving dynamics BMW is renowned for from an SUV. We will see the same transition happening with front-wheel drive," he said.