Just before our lead news story about the next-generation ‘low-carbon’ 3-series went to press, BMW announced that it was pulling out of F1.

Dr Norbert Reithofer chairman of the board said ‘it’s a resolute step in view of our company’s strategic realignment.

‘Premium will increasingly be defined in terms of sustainability and environmental compatibility. This is an area in which we want to remain in the lead.’

Having talked to BMW bosses and insiders about the all-new ‘green’ 2012 3-series a few weeks ago, the F1 decision didn’t come a great shock.

Even so, I think a major car manufacturer coming out and effectively declaring F1 ;environmentally unfriendly' probably rocked the F1 circus more than it would admit.

But I also think that the F1 coverage missed the essence of the story. BMW has decided to bet its future business on being both upmarket and environmentally friendly.

It’s a strategic decision that will significantly alter the way it develops and sells cars, as our story on the 2012 3-series explains.

We’ve had environmental scares before. The oil crisis of the early 1970s eventually (after quite a lag) produced a few aerodynamic experiments such as the Ford Sierra and Audi 100, as well triggering Toyota’s hybrid developments and introducing a 55mph speed limit in the US.