In Reply to: US M3 gets same engine as Europe (more) posted by ben keyes on April 17, 2000 at 12:01:50:
I have to wonder. BMW marketing gurus have a lot of power, so do the profit minded bean counters right now. The industry buzz is, BMW needs to sell 1,000,000 cars to stay independant. I love the cars the company puts out.... I HATE its marketing group. They are seriously tight lipped about their future plans, like when they made the 1.9L to 2.3L base shift to the Z3. Everyone who was on the cusp of that trip got screwed (me included, 1998 1.9L resale here was crap when I decided to move up to the M coupe). I'd hate to be in the same freakin' boat if they do anything to future coupes that hurts the one I'm paying for right now, again!
As far as BMW worrying over incremental sales of the M coupe? I wouldn't count on it. They've NEVER done THAT in the past (even in light of their current goals). When they have a strategic plan, or when a model gets soft in sales, they dump it (refer to 318ti in the US, still sold everywhere else, including a new Contour version, which is a sort-of mini M3!). The 8 series, M1, and others, all gone due to soft sales and/or changes in strategy. They do a great job for themselves making holes for their new product launches, it would be strange for them to stop now.
What I have heard, from several dealers, plus comments here from even more, is the M coupe was a stop-gap project from day one, slated to be dropped in 2001. If they are wrong, fine. But it's easy to loose sight of the fact that the approach taken on the coupe was very very cheap, with special tooling only required to build the roof, and some interior trim. Everything else came from the roadster and maybe even the 318ti (rear window wiper/washer and latch). The costs of the project are kept minimal, for a reason. And don't give me any crap about that's how they do things, as it isn't. For example, the tail-light assemblies are different on the Sedan/Coupe, the Z3/M Coupe, the convertible, and the wagon... these guys don't generally spend too much energy worrying over parts-bin inventory reductions.
We should also keep in mind, that sales of the coupes (Z3 and M) are below their original projections of 600 and 900 units (respectively), so it's not like they started any wild fires on the project. This is likely to play a part in future decision making...
As a Director of Marketing and Design, I can tell you, from a classic approach, the M coupe is a perfect platform to maintain the BMW image/excitement for the target market, at a time when their star player (M3) was aging fast (E46 3 series intros). The M coupe is a perfect placeholder, that makes much less sense when the E46/M3 enters the market. The costs of tooling/introduction of the E46 M3 are considerably more intense than banging a roof on the roadster. Having the M coupe and M3 on the lot at the same time produces a possible conflict BMW generally is very careful to avoid (re: no V8 in the M3 to keep away from the 540i/M5 decision).
It will be interesting to see what happens. If they keep the coupe and upgrade the engine, cool. If they drop it, cooler still (for me anyway). If they leave it alone, cool. One question begs to be asked... Why does anyone feel compelled to assure us that the M coupe will be with us for some time in the future? Isn't that BMW's job (which they are not doing), or is it what makes BMW such a great car company (they depend on fanatics to keep the buzz up!)???
One thing is certain, no-one here really knows what's going on inside the BMW corporate brains. Last we heard they were going to re-introduce the mini, overhaul Land Rover... that changed in a matter of two press releases. Anyone here says they have an "inside track"?... yeah, right...