Alpina's CEO says large SUV could be part of future portfolio and talks about previous plans to make a version of the i8
9 July 2019

Alpina plans to add the X7 seven-seat large SUV to its portfolio of BMW models, company boss Andreas Bovensiepen has revealed. 

While looking ahead and adapting to a changing market are his main priorities, he also briefly reminisced about past projects – including a 460bhp i8 – that didn’t clear the prototype stage.

“We are thinking about having an X7 in the future but not right now, because BMW has a very high demand for it and currently the plant is full,” Bovensiepen said at Alpina's headquarters.

He explained he has to keep production capacity in mind because BMW manufactures every member of the Alpina line-up on the same assembly line as the model they’re based on. While he didn’t provide a launch window, his comments suggest we won’t see an Alpina-branded X7 until 2020 at the earliest.

Alpina has followed BMW into the lucrative world of high-performance SUVs, but it hasn’t launched a hybrid yet. It nonetheless dabbled in petrol-electric technology in 2015 when it built and tested an evolution of the i8 powered by a four-cylinder engine that bumped the powertrain’s output to 460bhp.

Bovensiepen remembered the 100 additional horses made the i8 “quite convincing to drive” without sacrificing its green credentials, but he was forced to cancel the project after BMW voiced opposition to it.

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“BMW told us it wasn’t happy giving M or Alpina access to the i brand’s projects," he said. "We were told that BMW i stands for environmental friendliness, not for visual exhaust pipes.” Alpina has a long-standing relationship with BMW and therefore couldn’t ignore the feedback it received. 

The i8 joined the Mini in the ranks of Alpina rejects; in the early 2000s, after BMW relaunched the Mini brand, Alpina considered adding the hatchback to its line-up as an entry-level model. It again built and tested a prototype, but turning it into a series-production model was more complicated and more expensive than it was worth. Bovensiepen said Alpina doubted the project relatively quickly. Cost and complexity issues were compounded by the fact that the original Mini isn’t part of Alpina’s heritage.

The second-generation BMW 6 Series released in 2003 drove the final nail in the Alpina Mini’s coffin. Adding the 6 Series to the Alpina family made a lot more sense from both financial and image standpoints. The company hasn’t considered making another Mini since, and even smaller BMWs such as the 1 Series and 2 Series remain off-limits.

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Comments
1

9 July 2019
Fix the conk.
Steam cars are due a revival.

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