These are great times for BMW “M” : the BMW M5 has been voted “World Performance Car 2018”, making this the seventh time BMW has received a World Car Award from the organisation “World Car of the Year”.
A good occasion to publish here the interview we had with Peter Quintus (on the left of the photo, and with Peter Henrich, CEO of BMW Group Belux) on the Brussels Car Show early this year…just read further!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Hans Knol ten Bensel: The “M” brand whithin BMW has build itself a magnificent place and is looking back at a great tradition of motorsport. You are also offering driving courses…
Peter Quintus : In our hearts, we are all remain racing drivers! The M programme started originally as a racing team to win the German touring car championship in the ‘70s and still a lot of people, a lot of our engineers are still racing drivers.
Peter Quintus: “in our hearts, we are all racing drivers…”
Hans Knol ten Bensel: But now you have different customer bases…
Peter Quintus: Indeed, we have segments, we have the typical luxury customer, who likes to have a more sporty car, like the X5 and X6 M customers, and then we have the lower segments with the M4, M2, and these people have an affinity to racing. And a lot of these people go on the track one a year, and 25 % of these people have one a year used their car on the track.
Hans Knol ten Bensel : Most of these people have participated in a training course…and you have a (traditional) customer base which aims for “pure” sportiness?
Peter Quintus: We see that in the M2,3 and M4 models. The big discussion for the next model generation of these cars is whether we still need a manual transmission. The customer wants it, no matter how good the double clutch and auto transmissions have become. The M5 customer is a bit different. There we have a lot of business customers and not so many track people.
In the meantime, the M performance packages meet with very good demand. Every third customer wants a sport package. The top engine segments we offer already as M Performance package.
Peter Henrich, CEO of BMW Group Belux: We will carefully assess what the customer demands and preferences here.
Hans Knol ten Bensel: What will be your “sporting” story, how will you see M and M Performance concept evolve in the new worlds of electrification, E-driving and autonomous driving? The emphasis will be on responsiveness, handling, and that will be the “M” factor?
The BMW M5 is fitted with the latest version of the 4.4-litre V8 engine with M Twin PowerTurboTechnology…
Peter Quintus: You are absolutely right, BMW is more about a philosophy than a dogmatic approach of technology. We will always look, what can you actually achieve with this technology. There are certain requirements, what should an M car do, especially the agility, the precision, and so on, that is something which is very important for us. We could bring a plug hybrid in M, for instance. All the components are already there. We don’t tell you a secret that we have already some prototypes running… But there now still the problem of weight. Maybe within two or three years’ time, the technology will be of such a standard that the power to weight ratio of the electric components has evolved, but for the time being the car does not fulfill the requirements.
In the M5, an output of 600 hp and a maximum torque of 750 Nm guarantee supreme propulsion and phenomenal driving performance: the V8 biturbo engine accelerates the M5 from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.4 seconds…
Hans Knol ten Bensel: But you will see that with different motors at each wheel for instance, there are improvements in handling to be achieved…
Peter Quintus: Indeed, the technology has a lot of potential. For the moment the biggest problem is weight.
Hans Knol ten Bensel: But there is another element,which is a hallmark for BMW “M”, and that is the agility and the superb responsiveness culminating in a unique finesse of driving. For example with autonomous driving, one can build in that something extra which means that a BMW, when for instance it takes a winding road autonomously, that will be something really different, the driving experience will be something else…
Peter Quintus : That is another issue, we are already working on this technology, there is not only autonomous driving, you can also do drifting, you can teach your customer to drive the car…all this technology is now opening up.
Hans Knol ten Bensel: And the car can teach the customer, the driver, and learn him for that special BMW sporting autonomous driving experience… or literally, when autonomous driving is chosen, treat him to that unique BMW driving experience…
Peter Quintus: in a way, it is all about philosophy. We will use the ideal technology to achieve what we want. For instance in the M5, we opted for a “classic” automatic transmission instead of the double clutch layout. It will transmit more torque and power, will be just as responsive and virtually as efficient. Of course, there is a lot of potential in the sector, and we have a lot of growth. So we will lay our hands on the 8 series, and for instance the M8 is underway. (In the meantime, the BMW Concept M8 Gran Coupe is launched in Geneva and is a harbinger for things to come…)
Hans Knol ten Bensel: On a global scale, markets are very different… like China for instance
A: Indeed, the Chinese market still has not this sporting tradition, we sell now about 2000 cars there. Then the consumer preferences differ. In the US, our biggest market, with about 28 % of our production, there is still demand for manual transmissions…We also stress different aspects in different markets. In China, it is more the sporty luxury which appeals most, in the US we have more the “purist” aspect. But in general, our customers are really interested to improve their driving skills. A lot of people are going to driving trainings, starting from basics to the top level.
A Christophe Weerts, Corporate Communications Manager BMW Group Belux: We attach great importance to driver trainings. This is something we have now developed the last years. Now we offer it in Zuetendaal. We have more and more customers who are willing to go to the M training .
Peter Quintus: When you choose the “drivers package”, where the electronic speed limit is cancelled, you have to go to a driver training.
Hans Knol ten Bensel: You also stress the authenticity and the aura of the brand in your (new) showrooms, like you opened a new showroom in Singapore…
Peter Quintus: Indeed!
Hans Knol ten Bensel: Coming to the new Z4, is it more a stylish gentlemen and gentle women’s car?
The cockpit of the M5, for that unique driving experience…
Peter Henrich, CEO of BMW Group Belux: This is rather my personal opinion, but I think this Z4 is rather more sportier than its predecessor, crisper and more compact, you can have a lot of fun, and you don’t need to drive it always at 7000 revs.
Peter Quintus: Coming back to the M theme, of course we do a lot of profound technical changes, so it is not merely adding a sporting touch. For instance on the 3 series, 60 pct of the components are different. From the engine to the suspension and the reinforcements on the body. So it is a major effort to make an M car out of the BMW series product, so you will see no inflation of the range of M cars.
Hans Knol ten Bensel : We thank you for this interview