Philosophically, what is BMW concerned about when it comes to our babies? - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums



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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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Old 02-28-2014, 06:54 AM
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Philosophically, what is BMW concerned about when it comes to our babies?

This thread today made me realize I really didn't know the answer to the question of what BMW cares about.

In that thread, a guy who was considering trading his Harley for an E39 was asking about reliability, to which I had flippantly answered:
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
I don't know Harleys, but, reliability isn't something BMW was or is ever concerned about. BMW is only concerned with handling, performance, (maybe comfort?), and image.
But, after I posted that, I got to thinking ... what DOES BMW really care about?

I, myself, never researched bimmers before I had bought mine, and, I was shocked at the repairs, but just as surprised by the handling. I never cared about image, but I can imagine many others do.

But this thread isn't about what WE care about ... it's a basic philosophical question of what BMW (really) cares about.

Note: I didn't research this so, I might need to add references (but I have to take a friend to the doctor so I post hastily and will update later...).
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Old 02-28-2014, 07:02 AM
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The F30 hints that BMW is attempting a balancing act, of trying to maintain the image that has been created of the best combination of sport and luxury, while also trying to build a more mainstream car that appeals to a broader audience. It is because of this that they have a need to build more "niche" cars to appeal to the die-hard purists, such as the M235.
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Old 02-28-2014, 07:15 AM
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According to "Car and Driver", the F30 is a POS, which lost the famous BMW car-driver connection. And yes, it's being built to be addressed to a broader audience.
I can't remember the Car & Driver issue, but there was also a compare between the F30 and the outgoing e90. The e90 won it hands down. The article has also an interesting graph on how the steering is felt in both cars, after they have been tested on a very expensive jig for the drivetrain. I have no idea what the softcopy link is, I have the hardcopy of the magazine.
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Old 02-28-2014, 07:19 AM
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this one? http://blog.caranddriver.com/a-tale-...-so-different/
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Old 02-28-2014, 07:21 AM
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Quote:
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But, after I posted that, I got to thinking ... what DOES BMW really care about?
Ultimately, the bottom line - just like any other business.
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Old 02-28-2014, 08:02 AM
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From my experience it's certainly not quality. As a yardstick, my wife's car - a Saturn Aura (not a stellar reputation) has just turned 7 yrs old and 90K mi. From new it has needed tires, battery, brakes & wiper blades. That's it, zero issues and it rides and handles just as well as my E39 for "normal" use (it's based on an Opel platform). Looking back at my records, when my 530 was at 90K mi it had the usual wear stuff - tires, battery, brakes & wiper blades plus - aux fan, thermostat, cracked interior wood trim (replaced under warranty but it cracked again), trunk wiring loom, leaking rear door seals, FSU and radio pixels. Not what I would have expected from a car costing more than twice the Saturn when new.

From what I've seen and experienced, the BMW priority is maintaining a mystique in order to justify a premium price. I don't know how long the mystique will endure in a world where BMWs are routinely out-performed by cars costing significantly less and technology is commonplace you can now get a head-up display in a Mazda!! Perhaps there will always be people who will pay for what a mechanic friend of mine once said was "the $20K emblem". Although I love my E39, I won't be one of them.

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Old 02-28-2014, 08:21 AM
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I found this video prior to me making the decision, i like the fact that the cabin stays intact.


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Old 02-28-2014, 09:54 AM
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None of us can speak for what the company "cares" about - but I doubt it has broad "philosophical" interests

BMW is a mass-produced, premium brand, that like the others, relies on sharing parts and platforms across as many model lines as it can conjure up. It's body-in-white is made no differently from any other brand, premium or other wise - it's the same unibody, CAD-designed for lightness, stiffness and crashworthiness set-up every car marque uses today.

What makes it "premium" is the more you pay, the more "lightness" you buy (I put that in quotes because the more $ BMW's are the heaviest, but I digress); you get more aluminum in the suspension, body panels and use of high-strength steel. You also get more "faux" luxury with goofy stitching, not-so-great leather, softer plastics and lots of consumer-grade electronics (and electronic systems) not designed for the harsh long-term use an automobile can throw at it.

What separates BMW from the other tony brands is a reputation for dynamic integrity; a certain marriage of braking, steering and handling ... that while contained in large amounts in my 2006 ZHP convertible, seems to be diluted in the newer models as the brand clamors for a larger, less knowledgeable demographic.

If I were shopping premium brands today, for the first time in 14 years, since I bought my first bimmer, I'd be shopping one of the other marques - I'd be hard pressed to not go Merc or Audi - they seem to have "premium" down pat - especially the A5 convertible, what a beauty!!
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Old 02-28-2014, 10:16 AM
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That's the one. In the same issue, they have some more talk on how BMW has evolved (or should I say regressed/devolved?)
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Old 02-28-2014, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdCT View Post
None of us can speak for what the company "cares" about - but I doubt it has broad "philosophical" interests

BMW is a mass-produced, premium brand, that like the others, relies on sharing parts and platforms across as many model lines as it can conjure up. It's body-in-white is made no differently from any other brand, premium or other wise - it's the same unibody, CAD-designed for lightness, stiffness and crashworthiness set-up every car marque uses today.

What makes it "premium" is the more you pay, the more "lightness" you buy (I put that in quotes because the more $ BMW's are the heaviest, but I digress); you get more aluminum in the suspension, body panels and use of high-strength steel. You also get more "faux" luxury with goofy stitching, not-so-great leather, softer plastics and lots of consumer-grade electronics (and electronic systems) not designed for the harsh long-term use an automobile can throw at it.

What separates BMW from the other tony brands is a reputation for dynamic integrity; a certain marriage of braking, steering and handling ... that while contained in large amounts in my 2006 ZHP convertible, seems to be diluted in the newer models as the brand clamors for a larger, less knowledgeable demographic.

If I were shopping premium brands today, for the first time in 14 years, since I bought my first bimmer, I'd be shopping one of the other marques - I'd be hard pressed to not go Merc or Audi - they seem to have "premium" down pat - especially the A5 convertible, what a beauty!!
So articulate and resonates with my assessment as well! Thanks for taking the time to post. I just might have to plagiarize your ideas when considering and talking to whomever about replacing mein 530.

Last edited by gchand; 02-28-2014 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 02-28-2014, 12:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdCT View Post
What makes it "premium" is the more you pay, the more "lightness" you buy (I put that in quotes because the more $ BMW's are the heaviest, but I digress); you get more aluminum in the suspension, body panels and use of high-strength steel.
I see the point you're trying to make but the upcoming Ford F150 is going to be all-aluminum. I doubt that it will be classified as a "premium" vehicle.

I'd venture to say that "premium" is defined as much (maybe more) by mystique, public perception and price as it is by physical characteristics, performance and technology. Marketing, combined with careful nurturing of a brand image are skills that BMW have mastered.
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Old 02-28-2014, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Mikes530 View Post
I see the point you're trying to make but the upcoming Ford F150 is going to be all-aluminum. I doubt that it will be classified as a "premium" vehicle.

I'd venture to say that "premium" is defined as much (maybe more) by mystique, public perception and price as it is by physical characteristics, performance and technology. Marketing, combined with careful nurturing of a brand image are skills that BMW have mastered.
That's true Mike, aluminum isn't as exotic as it once was - perhaps premium automakers will have to move to carbon fiber and other composites to justify higher prices I completely agree with the rest of your statement, though I fear there might be a few too many models.
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Old 02-28-2014, 12:57 PM
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To answer that question you need to look at who buys the cars. Is it a mom that wants a safe reliable car for her family? NO she would have bought a Honda. Is it a granola family from Seattle that wants 0 carbon footprint? NO they would have bought a Suburu. What do all of us have in common. PRESTIGE. We don't drive BMW's because they make cute cars, we buy them because we can have heated leather interior but don't feel like were going rotate at 100mph. BMW isn't stupid about putting plastic parts in our cars. They did it on purpose for reasons that our comprehension can't fathom. Are our cars meant to go top speeds all the time, no, but they can. We drive in a practical world where we don't want to hear the road when we are driving down the freeway to work. Doesn't mean they can't take a car and make the steering a little stiffer to make it feel like your in a race car.

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Old 02-28-2014, 01:05 PM
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Then this happens

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Old 02-28-2014, 01:21 PM
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Here's the one I was originally looking for.

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Old 02-28-2014, 01:46 PM
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Don't hate please, but I think that BMW wants to see their older cars age "gracefully". They don't particularly want to see them butchered (no matter how tasteful we think they have become). I don't think they want to see them with coffee can mufflers, lowered excessively, and noisy such that people will not see them as cars that anyone can afford as they aim obviously at the high-end market. Unfortunately, they are affordable, great cars, and lend themselves rather well to the younger crowd. That's their tough crap, but the question was asked so I said it as tastefully as I can say it. BMW likely wants to see them clean, waxed, basically still as they came from the factory, yada yada just so that they can show the wealthier that if they buy one new, they will age gracefully and will still look classy and "timeless" as they grow older. Just my .02. I hope I understood the question correctly!
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Old 02-28-2014, 11:44 PM
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I know one thing they definatley were NOT concerned about when it came to our E39's when they were built....actual cupholders!!!

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Old 03-01-2014, 01:28 AM
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Haha^^

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Old 03-01-2014, 01:49 AM
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Each era has its gizmos, when the E39 was inroduced aluminum suspention was unheard off and the OBC was not even found on an S class mercedes. Try to find a 1996 Honda with traction control, you can't. That is what high end used to be, not anymore.
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Old 03-01-2014, 05:04 AM
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I believe you can characterize some "what BMW cares about" simply because they are run just like every other publicly held company and basic business principles apply. However, companies are run by people and people respond to incentives. Also the "image" of BMW has evolved over the years. Back in 1980, luxury was not as important as it is today. The "brand" has clearly evolved.

First and foremost, BMW is a business. And all businesses care most about making money. Like any and every business, if you aren't profitable, you won't exist. So organizational survival is at the top of the list. Also for management of publicly held companies, if you don't grow the business (actually the share price), you get replaced. So at a personal level for management, if they wish to keep their jobs, growth is probably the second most important thing. So, how to be profitable and grow the business? BMW's approach is to offer a high performance niche product at a premium price.

You mention a variety of vehicle characteristics (performance, reliability, comfort, etc.) as a starting point for what the company cares about. Here are a few more car attributes that likely apply: appearance, luxury, technology, efficiency, versatility, all weather capability, etc. Practicality, long term durability and reliability and cost effectiveness are less applicable to BMWs. The marketing department uses these attributes to spin the image of the product they are selling, be it a BMW or bicycle. The marketing department wants to differentiate the BMW from all the other car competitors. Hence, to be create the image of the "Ultimate Driving Machine", BMW tries to offer a unique blend of performance, luxury, technology, appearance, etc. So product image is the sum total of the product characteristics and is very important to BMW.

Underlying the question: What does BMW care about? comes down to priorities given to the engineering dept that designs the products we buy. The design of any product involves tradeoffs. When it comes to BMW, they are cutting edge innovators like Toyota, Audi, etc. Sometimes, innovation involves a known or unknown tradeoff, usually being reliability, durability and/or price. Sometimes the innovation works (some aspects of Vanos and the suspension design) and sometimes it doesn't (CCV). Long term reliability of seals, liquid bushings, and diaphragms is not where these products shine. But the marketplace that BMW (Audi, too) is targeting is the new car four year owner (note the warranty policy). After that, it's less important (Would you buy a 10 year old Audi?). Toyota and Honda are targeting the more value oriented customer. Hence, long term reliability is much more important. BMW engineers also know a good thing when they see one and know enough not to screw it up (too badly). That is why the I6 has been around forever.

Ultimately, BMW has a different set of priorities guiding the company than other car companies. Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they don't. Just like any other company.
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Old 03-01-2014, 06:52 AM
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Great thread, I sense a new story for my site coming out of it, so thanks all!

That parody video was hilarious, and love the Dakar E36 M3 the cutie drives off in.

A lot of great points made already in thread. I've certainly taken BMW to task a lot for some reliability issues, but that's not why someone buys a BMW. If you want a car you don't need to do much to, there are other brands. The tradeoff is the driving experience is better, but you need to do more preventative maintenance to keep it so.

I think the most damning (and in no way original) indictment you can make about BMW today is that the old premium on driving dynamics continues in only certain models, and not the entire line. Whether you think that's a travesty, is a reaction to what the buyer wants or is simply what BMW must do to survive and prosper as an independent car company depends on your vantage point.

As to what BMW cares about re old cars, the answer is they simply don't. There's no business reason to care, and maybe enthusiasts like us remind them of compromises they've made, who knows? Occasionally we force the company to do things they don't want to, like offer the manual tranny on the E60 M5.

Plus, BMW is forced to offer lower prices in this market due to intense competition. All this (plus a litigious climate) must make the US market galling at times for Munich/Woodcliff Hills. I'll bet they can't wait to siphon more and more production to China. (But in that market they need to worry about copyright/technology theft, so pick your poison)

From what I've read, in other markets old means old and let's move on. We're the only market that cares about threads like this one.
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Old 03-01-2014, 07:00 AM
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Fudman: BMW is privately owned, not publicly traded - so there is a slight difference in how they perceive their business model, but I agree with the gist of your comments.

Edgey36-39: I think there's one "business case" BMW can make for the older models and that's how enthusiast-driven websites and social media sites, like this one, can bring future "new" BMW owners up through the ranks by creating and maintaining high visibility for the brand's legacy models. Of course, it's "free advertising" for BMW as they just sit back and watch it happen
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Old 03-01-2014, 07:14 AM
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Fudman: BMW is privately owned, not publicly traded - so there is a slight difference in how they perceive their business model, but I agree with the gist of your comments.
Not to get too picky but the majority of BMW shares are publicly held and traded. The Quandt family only owns 46% of shares (which are not traded). The balance is in public float, which are traded.
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Old 03-01-2014, 07:33 AM
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Quote:
Edgey36-39: I think there's one "business case" BMW can make for the older models and that's how enthusiast-driven websites and social media sites, like this one, can bring future "new" BMW owners up through the ranks by creating and maintaining high visibility for the brand's legacy models. Of course, it's "free advertising" for BMW as they just sit back and watch it happen
Ed -- true to a point, but it's hardly all positive. Lots of opinion in car mags and like in this thread about how BMW is losing its way. And the enthusiast slice of BMW's new car market continues to shrink.

I wrote about this piece back in 2011 if interested: http://chrisparente.com/2011/03/18/b...w-enthusiasts/
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Old 03-01-2014, 07:51 AM
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Ed -- true to a point, but it's hardly all positive. Lots of opinion in car mags and like in this thread about how BMW is losing its way. And the enthusiast slice of BMW's new car market continues to shrink.

I wrote about this piece back in 2011 if interested: http://chrisparente.com/2011/03/18/b...w-enthusiasts/
Thanks, that's a good piece of writing, and I couldn't agree more. My 2006 ZHP convertible is the last of the truly good models for which the brand's core values are in full display.

I doubt I'd buy anything in the BMW camp today - if I wanted a fancy convertible, I'd go with the A5, or S5 - both beautiful, and both offering a proper soft top. If I wanted a big luxury car, I'd go with a Benz, because that's what they do, and have been for years.

It's interesting to see threads where people complain of "parts sharing" by other manufacturers, but ignore BMW's own practice of slicing its very few platforms into so many confusing models with diluted identity - the Z4 is a good example, it has the same 4 cylinder engine as the 128, the 328 the 528 ... yawn. It doesn't handle as well as the prior model ( I know, I had one), and it's compromised for space by its massive hardtop. There are other more interesting two seat cruisers - I'd look at the TT or Benz, for example.

Too bad, but it leaves the door open for another manufacturer to walk into BMW's old core value.
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