Currently reading: BMW mulls future of small front-driven combustion cars
Cars like the BMW 1 Series are difficult to electrify and not as lucrative as larger siblings

The next generation of small, front-wheel-drive BMW models is currently "under review", according to a source at the company.

Following the recent launch of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, and next year’s launch of a new range of Mini models, the natively front-driven UKL architecture that underpins them will be 12 years old in 2027 and due for replacement.

Autocar understands that one issue for a platform like UKL in the European market is that, by 2027, most cars with internal combustion engines will probably have to be plug-in hybrids with a range of 40 miles or so. This would necessitate a larger architecture, resulting in longer and more expensive vehicles.

The BMW source told Autocar that a review of these smaller UKL-based models was ongoing as senior planners and officials look afresh at the business model of producing smaller vehicles.

"There are a number of issues to consider," the source said. "Firstly, the size of UKL makes electrification harder because the potential size of a battery is restricted. 

"Secondly, the scale of UKL is an issue. [Cars based on it] sell in very low volumes in the US. The biggest potential market is probably China, in the smaller cities, but there they only want a sedan [saloon], rather than a hatchback. But the volumes are quite good and such a car is important as 'my first BMW'. If we left that market, we would be giving the market share away to rivals."

Another major consideration for BMW are the delayed Euro 7 regulations, which are not expected to arrive in their final form until this summer. It remains possible that these tailpipe pollution rules will at least require more under-floor space for a significantly larger catalytic convertor. Again, this could push makers towards bigger vehicles, which will also necessarily be notably more expensive.

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It has already been confirmed that the entry-level Audi A1 hatchback will bow out after its current lifecycle, and the Audi Q2 compact crossover will go the same way. Both moves are thought to reflect the problem of building electrified small cars at lower price points.

The appetite for premium-badge makers to build smaller front-drive cars has also started to evaporate with the EU’s adoption of battery-electric car sales targets.

Until the beginning of the decade, EU car makers were tasked with reducing their fleet CO2 average to below 100g/gm, something that cars such as the diesel-powered Mercedes A-Class and BMW 1 Series were effective at. But with the industry's shift to EV production, battery car production will now address those fleet CO2 issues.

The experience of selling fewer more expensive and high-specced new cars during the Covid lockdown has encouraged cars makers, including Volkswagen, to shift way from retailing cheaper models with razor-thin margins.

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Andrew1 29 April 2022
What they really mean is that their profit margins will be diminished.
That's OK, BMW, we have the e-208, Corsa-e, Smart and so on. Maybe you can take a look and learn a thing or two.
harf 29 April 2022

Doesn't seem quite right does it?

You'd have thought small cars would be more environmentally friendly needing less raw materials for manufacture, being lighter and decently fuel efficient with their small petrol engines. And then generally not covering that many miles each annually.

Perversely, those cars that best fit the current emissions criteria (excepting EVs) are X5 sized cars because they've got sufficient room to package a battery big enough for >50 miles electric range.

 Doesn't seem quite right, does it?

shiakas 29 April 2022

By your logic mopeds should be the most environmental vehicles to get around in. They are not because they do not accomodate for exhaust aftertreatment. The same applies for small cars.Go electric or go extinct, the Chinese will eat everyones lunch.  

Christian Galea 29 April 2022
shiakas wrote:

By your logic mopeds should be the most environmental vehicles to get around in. They are not because they do not accomodate for exhaust aftertreatment. The same applies for small cars.Go electric or go extinct, the Chinese will eat everyones lunch.  

You seem to only be considering tailpipe emissions; harf is also considering the damage to the environment due to the mining and use of all the materials that make up a vehicle (which do pose substantial damage, and is the reason why BEVs actually need to cover significant distances before they can even break even with ICEVs in the case of several pollutants). So yes, the smaller the vehicle, the less resources are consumed, which will be better for the environment...but it is also true that there might not be much room for advanced filtration systems.

But smaller vehicles also reduce the length of traffic jams, and are easier to manoeuvre and park...and they are likely to cover relatively smaller distances, and as such their environmental impact is quite low. So the fact that smaller vehicles are becoming less and less common due to environmental legislation is ironic and madness imo.

shiakas 30 April 2022
Christian Galea wrote:

shiakas wrote:

By your logic mopeds should be the most environmental vehicles to get around in. They are not because they do not accomodate for exhaust aftertreatment. The same applies for small cars.Go electric or go extinct, the Chinese will eat everyones lunch.  

You seem to only be considering tailpipe emissions; harf is also considering the damage to the environment due to the mining and use of all the materials that make up a vehicle (which do pose substantial damage, and is the reason why BEVs actually need to cover significant distances before they can even break even with ICEVs in the case of several pollutants). So yes, the smaller the vehicle, the less resources are consumed, which will be better for the environment...but it is also true that there might not be much room for advanced filtration systems.

But smaller vehicles also reduce the length of traffic jams, and are easier to manoeuvre and park...and they are likely to cover relatively smaller distances, and as such their environmental impact is quite low. So the fact that smaller vehicles are becoming less and less common due to environmental legislation is ironic and madness imo.

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