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October 18, 2004

GERMANY: BMW considers more spacious vehicles – but not minivans

BMW is considering vehicles that would have the interior room of a minivan but not seven seats.

By bcusack

BMW is considering vehicles that would have the interior room of a minivan but not seven seats.

Helmut Panke, CEO of BMW , says the automaker “will never bring a minivan” to the market. But it is looking at concepts for roomier vehicles that would not sacrifice BMW performance, he told Automotive News Europe.

One such vehicle could offer a “comfortable business-lounge environment,” without the standard three rows of seats. Another vehicle under consideration is a sport wagon.

“It would have some coupe aspects together with something that is on an SUV or SAV (sport activity vehicle) platform,” Panke says.

He would not say when BMW is likely to make a decision.

BMW is coining the term “space functional concept” for its new vehicles, which could come in more than one size.

A short-wheelbase version will be sold in Europe, and the United States will get a longer wheelbase model.

Panke says the major difference between the vehicles BMW is studying and competing sport wagons is that the competition “just offers space.”

“Any BMW brand solution will not just offer space,” he says. “It has to be a driver’s car. It has to be a dynamically handling car.”

Burkhard Goeschel, BMW board member responsible for research, development and purchasing, says BMW envisions a seating position for the vehicle at a height “somewhere between a passenger car and an SUV.”

“The seating position characterises the car much more than other things,” Goeschel says.

BMW is not focusing on the number of seats, he adds: “It is not a people mover.”

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