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Old 28th May 2004, 00:25   #1
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Top Gear, June 2004 (Mag)

"'Our new design was wrong'
BMW Boss's Shock Admission

You knew it, we knew it, anyone with any taste new it - BMW's 7-series is horrible. Now it seems BMW knows it too.

BMW has finally admitted what everyone in the car world has long known: the current 7-series is a disaster. In an interview with American business magazine Fortune, Helmut Panke, BMW's chairman, said: "I admit the intensity of the public debate over our new design (which began with the 7-series) did suprise me. There are still too many articles focusing on 'I wish this car looked different blah, blah, blah.' The 7-series was a combination of completely new technology with new design direction. The key point is that we should never make big steps in strategic directions without preparing our customers."

Panke is the first BMW executive to publicly acknowlege what many Munich insiders have privately been saying about the 7-series - that BMW made a big mistake in launching Chris Bangle's new design direction and the complex i-Drive system at the same time in the most conservative sector of the market with no explanation.

Panke's comments have been greeted with relief in Munich. "It's a weight off everyone's shoulders," one insider said. "Panke has finally said what we all knew but could not say - that we tried to do too much, too soon with the 7-series and we did it in the wrong market. We were too far ahead of the audience and lost a lot of goodwill. It was a real own goal that has overshadowed the launch of the very good cars that have followed the 7-Series." (This last sentence doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, but it is verbatim from the article - RON430)

Panke's admission is part of a new PR approach by BMW. As sales of the Z4, the new 5-series and the 6-series rise, BMW execs are admitting past failings. At a recent private dinner in Spain, one senior BMW board member told jounalists that BMW had done "an absolutely lousy job" of explaining the firm's new design and its minimalist cabin controls.

Even Chris Bangle himself has admitted making mistakes - although not when it comes to design. At a recent lecture at the Design Museum in London, he said: "Did we move in the right direction with design? Yes. Could we have done more to explain what we were doing and why? Yes."

Privately, Bangle believes that the BMW board were too slow to wake up to the scale of his design changes. They failed to explain his new modernist style and when it became clear that customers loved the 7-Series' performance but hated the looks and i-Drive, they acted too slowly to address the concerns.

The top-of-the-range 7-Series was launched two years ago. In spite of the chorus of criticism it attracted and sluggish sales - in particular in BMW's core German market - BMW insisted customers would learn to love it. However, last year executives rushed through a facelift designed to smooth the car's sharp edges, reduce its bulky profile and soften the clunky bootlid.

The new 7-Series will be unveiled later this year. BMW hopes its launch will mark the end of one of the most awkward chapters in the company's history."

Sure glad Top Gear feels that BMW has admitted its mistakes, I don't get that feeling from reading the article. You combine the awful reliability of the seven with the dubious design and I am convinced that most of the ones on the street are the result of good deals instead of people rushing out to fulfill their dreams.

That charming arrogance of BMW that endeared them to me so much is still evident. This "The designs are great, it is just that our customers are too dimwitted to see how good they are" ranks right down there with some of the biggest miscues GM ever made in figuring they knew better than the customer. Sure glad people still value that roundel so much. Worse part of a Lexus is boredom. They rarely break and don't degrade much, if at all, as you own them. They always start and generally everything works. But that doesn't seem to generate much automotive passion. As for bimmer, the best part was wanting one, not owning one. Or maybe no one at bimmer service ever explained to me how good I had it and I was too dimwitted to figure it out on my own.
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Old 28th May 2004, 01:01   #2
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Hey PS could you provide a link to the article please

Well well well, i am not surprised since this PR effort was just in time to launch the new 7-series. Like any good organisation they didnt accept their flaws till they had an answer for it. So now comes the new facelifted 7-series. Great.

Even though the 7 series is a newer design than the S, its been plagued by several problems. And most members of this site would have read the endless posts by aah78, GTO and myself mentioning these problems.

The Pic below shows that as early as 2003, BMW was preparing its 7-series for a faclelift. The car to the right of the white BM is a new 7-series in facelift format. The white BMW is the 05 3-series.



BMW has come late at accepting its mistakes. I hope the new 7 with its improved looks and simpler i-drive should do the trick. Meanwhile, at that price point, go buy an S instead. Thoroughly worth it.

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Old 28th May 2004, 01:04   #3
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Oops... my bad, the white on is the 04 1-series. The black ones are the 05 3-series.

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Old 28th May 2004, 01:57   #4
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hope to see some good designs again!
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Old 28th May 2004, 02:24   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]Hey PS could you provide a link to the article please
I really dont think I can do that, coz I 'typed' the entire article from this months TG Mag (as I think Mr. Bangle is as famous on T-BHP as our own Sach'in'creadible (famous for wrong reasons). If you want I can scan the pages and post em up. Let me know.

And if you read it closely the headline by TG magazine is very misleading. Basically they've only said that the design change was ill-communicated with the public and that the 7 series' design wasn't completely spot on. That's why they're changing it. But the new 6 series, 5 series, Z4, X3 and new 1 series are not subject to this.

I know a lot of people like to see BMW change everything back like it was 5 years ago and in their enthusiasm about the misleading headline think BMW regrets all of its new designs, but it just isn't so. Read closely. It's a bit of a shame though that TG tries to make this bigger than it actually is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]Oops... my bad, the white on is the 04 1-series. The black ones are the 05 3-series.
I've seen the spy pics of the 7 series update in some japanese magazine, and they tried to computer render it as well. It really isn't that much different. Just a slight bootlid adjustment (think regular 5 vs M5) and a change to the front grille and headlights. Nothing drastic, they just made is cleaner (but this was a while back).



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Old 28th May 2004, 02:46   #6
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So am i wierd for thinking 760Li Black looks hot?
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Old 28th May 2004, 07:29   #7
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Quote[/b] (S350L-E240 @ May 28 2004,01:16)]So am i wierd for thinking 760Li Black looks hot?
No, I agree with you, they look good in dark colours, hides the "bum". Design grows on you. i-drive needs to be less complicated
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Old 28th May 2004, 13:40   #8
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So BMW says that "they didnt prepare the customer, didnt explain it right to the conservative customers, that they WERE TOO FAR AHEAD of the audience blah blah blah".

I am surprised at BMWs arrogance. They goofed up, and they did it big. Not only did they launch a design that was way beyond controversial, but they also ended up making the car so complicated that it was utterly unreliable!!

Thats some story to cover up their mistakes. The bottomline is....conservative customers or not...You have to know your target and potential customers inside out!! If you pretend, they will move over to the other side of the fence...and its really difficult to get them back.

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