BMW's M division has been on a roll as of late, and despite the coronavirus pandemic slowing things down considerably all over the world, there's no denying that the performance-oriented line of the German manufacturer has seen a huge growth in just five years.
Whichcar.com.au had the opportunity to speak with Markus Flasch, CEO of BMW M, about his plans for the future and the challenges that his brand faces. With almost half of all BMWs sold wearing an M badge (M trim and actual M cars included), there's been some talk that the identity of the "M" was starting to lose some credibility, in which he says that “M has never been a competing brand to BMW. M is the exaggeration of what BMW stands for in terms of driving pleasure. M supplements BMW, and it’s going to remain this way.”
Much of this recent success has been attributed to its relatively modest M2, Flasch saying that the M2 is "the smaller, crisper, and rougher package" when compared to the M3 and M4. "These cars don’t compete with each other. I’m very happy with the set-up that we have and we’ll keep it this way.”
In five years, the M brand has grown over 200%, and while sales are better than ever, there is still the question of whether or not driving customers towards aspirational and faster cars might be undermining BMW's efforts in electric mobility. Flasch says that it's all about balancing the portfolio and that M cars are as efficient as possible, stating that they aren't at odds.
And what about a hybrid or electrified M car? "We won’t mess around or compromise the distinct character that our M cars have today,” he says. “An electrified car, whether it’s plug in the wall, battery-electric, has to take it up with the predecessor, and I know that there are physical limits, but within physical limits of working dimensions, we are going to make it happen.”
When asked about why power numbers seem to taper off in more recent M car generation gaps, he says he doesn't recognise any gentleman's agreement or limit, and that it's all about offering a package that's accessible for everyone. “Power is nothing without control, right? And if there isn’t something with too much power it’s just a question of how you tune in and hone into a car, and how you make it accessible,” he explains.
“You look 10, 15 years back and if you imagined 625 horsepower in a saloon car, you’d probably be scared. Now, I can give an M5 this 625 horsepower and only drive to my mom, in winter, and she’d still be okay. It’s all just a question of how you incorporate it into a package that makes it accessible for everyone, and this is what M has always been brilliant in. Don’t expect a power limit.”