Following the launch of the upcoming BMW M2 in 2015, the firm's designers and engineers will focus their attention on creating the next generation of mainstream models.
“We want each and every model to have its own little world. We think that’s important in a market where we sell two million cars [BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce] this year,” said Karim Habib, BMW brand design director.
“We need to maintain exclusivity, and if anything we will make them more separate,” he added.
BMW’s core model range of 1-, 3-, 5- and 7-series models have styling that has developed to give each one a distinct identity, a trend started in the late 1990s under Chris Bangle after BMW was criticised for making small, medium and large versions of the same car.
Today the 3-series, for example, has crisp-edged styling, whereas the 5-series has a softer look.
“Whatever we do must be authentic design, which represents the inner qualities of the car,” said Habib.
“Why edges? With edges you express precision and the 3-series drives crisply, with precision. But the 5-series is a bit more about elegance, with more volume in the surfaces,” he added.
Habib said BMW can use new headlamp technology, particularly that involving high intensity LED lamps, to give each of the saloon cars a more different and individual front-end graphic to build around its hallmark double-kidney grille.
BMW will shortly launch a new flagship 7-series, which is likely to employ slim LED headlamps as its price point can justify making use of the pricey technology.
Slim headlamps would enable Habib and his team to design the next 7-series around a much larger double-kidney grille with a greater road presence.
The price point of the 3-series, however, can’t yet justify purely LED lighting, so the design would need to incorporate conventional technology headlamps.
Depending on how the cost of LED technology develops the 5-series, due for launch in 2016, could go either way. “The LED tipping point is pretty much here,” said Habib.
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