We spoke with the men and woman behind the new BMW 2 series Gran and Active Tourer: the art of creating a bestseller…

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They prepared the new BMW Series 2 bestseller: Pascale Goudvis and Armin Hultzsch spoke with us in Brussels…

On the Brussels Show, we spoke with Armin Hultzsch, Head of Project BMW 2 Series Active Tourer/Gran Tourer, Marcus Tauchen, Project Management Office BMW 2 Series Active Tourer/Gran Tourer and Pascale Goudvis, Product Management BMW 2 Series Active Tourer/Gran Tourer.

The car is very important to BMW in this Sports Activity Tourer (SAT) segment, and this was a good reason for this interview…so just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Here you see the new BMW Active Tourer on the left and the Gran Tourer on the right…

Q: What did you want to do with this successful car in its evolution, why the facelift, what did you want to change, what to emphasize more, to make the car still more attractive?

A: Armin Hultzsch: The aim of the renewal of both cars was to bring both cars more to the core of the BMW brand values. As you know, this was a new segment for BMW, but even when the clients decide to buy such a car, they still strive for the main, core brand values of BMW, which is design, image, sportiness, agility, and that was the main focus we had on the renewal of both cars.

When you look at the front, we have a bigger kidney grille, we have a more precise, new design language, bigger air intakes, we also renewed the M sports package which is running very well on this car, we have dual exhaust pipes and we have the renewal of the complete drivetrain.

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Q: Hybrid is already playing a big role in the 2 series model range, the 225i meets with big demand?

A: Pascale Goudvis: Worldwide, it is now more than 20 pct.

Q: Still speaking about the 2 series range, do you see the same trend towards the hybrid version also in Germany?

A: Pascale Goudvis: certainly.

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Q: How about the Diesel versions, do we see a shift in demand in favor of petrol engined or other versions?

A: Armin Hultzsch: We believe in the future of the Diesel, our Diesels are clean, we have also implemented the latest technologies in our Diesel engines, notably with reduction injection now fitted to diesel models of the BMW 1 Series, BMW 2 Series, BMW 3 Series, BMW 4 Series and the BMW X1. BMW BluePerformance technology including an SCR catalytic converter with AdBlue injection for diesel engines will come as standard in all series in the future. Of course, the 2 series can accept Diesel, petrol engine and electrified drivetrains, so we are very able to cope with changes in drivetrain mix and customer preferences.

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For example, the cars with the different drivetrains all run over one assembly line in Leipzig, so we are very flexible when it comes to meet changes in customer demand, and so we are also able to respond to changes in legislation, for example in China. This is a basis of our strategy that we keep being agile in coping with new developments, laws and changes in customer preferences.

Q: 70 to 80 % of the buyers of the 2 series are first time BMW clients, this is quite remarkable…

A: Pascale Goudvis: Indeed, in the Grand Tourer we see the highest conquest rate, where we see customers with families with a high number of children, so this is about families who wanted to drive a BMW but weren’t able to do so for practical reasons.

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The new 2 Series Active Tourer…

For the Active Tourer you see especially silver agers, so also people who are looking for this specific concept of compact cars,  offering a lot of space and a higher driving position, but also still offer these typical BMW qualities and characteristics, and indeed by bringing these cars we took in quite a few new customers.

Q: Besides the success in Europe, are there areas where you could penetrate more? The Asian market for instance?

A: Marcus Tauchen: We have to consider first that this 2 series is also dubbed our “silver ager”, most of the clients are more than 60 years old, it is a different target group than the X range for instance. The Grand Tourer in its turn is aimed most at families up to five children.

A: Pascale Goudvis: What market areas is concerned, you know that the 2 series is not offered in the US, it is not a concept which fits this market, but we have very good sales in Japan, and China. In Japan, the clients are much younger, the Active Tourer is quite trendy with young women.

Q: The car comes already well equipped in standard form, but customers want more…

A: Armin Hultzsch: Our customers are quite happy to equip the car very high, the Active Tourer is one of the highest equipped cars in this segment. The clients have money and they want to spend it on the car.

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…and the BMW 2 series Gran Tourer

Q: The car is a bestseller, how does it rank in the BMW model range in most markets?

A: Marcus Tauchen: In the German market, we have achieved third place in 2016 in our BMW model range, behind the 5 series and the X1. For the moment, we are fourth, behind 3 series, 5 series and X1. Indeed the 2 series Active and Grand Tourers are still big sellers. In the MPV segment, we don’t know exactly what the market share is.

Q: The development of such an important bestseller is a crucial matter. Could you comment a little bit on your functions, your individual role/task in this project?

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The new 2 Series 225xe i performance…

A: Armin Hultzsch: I am the project leader for the 2 series Active and Grand Tourer, which just mainly the technical focus of developing and the organization of that car, together with the product management, (pointing at Pascale Goethals), she is mainly the voice of the customer; I am more on the technical side. So to say the chief engineer…

Q: Now you are already starting development of the next generation?

A: Armin Hultzsch: That is one of my colleagues.  As you know, the development process is quite long, so one of my direct colleagues is already thinking about the organization of it.

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The iconic BMW kidney grille is now more pronounced…

Q: I think that must be a huge challenge, to determine already the outlines, the cahier de charge so to speak, what will be the emissions, performance, styling, space, for the next generation…

A: Armin Hultzsch: As you said, it is indeed a challenge, we have very volatile circumstances in our industry, changes in legislation, our strategy is, as we said, to keep the company very agile…

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True BMW cabin atmosphere is carefully kept inside…

Q: It would be very interesting to take a closer look at this development, how it goes about and is organized…

A: Armin Hultzsch and Pascale Goudvis: We would welcome you in Munich…

We thank you for this interview!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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