Last week’s announcement that BMW is planning to launch a new entry-level model with a front-wheel drive powertrain would certainly have had some brand purists spewing, but for the large majority of new car buyers it would appear that it doesn’t matter which wheels are doing the driving because most wouldn’t even notice.
Any enthusiast would almost instantly recognize whether a car is front, rear or all-wheel drive once they hop behind the wheel but according to a survey run by BMW, most new car buyers are clueless on the issue.
Speaking to analysts following the release of BMW’s 2009 financial results last week, CEO Norbert Reithofer revealed that 80 percent of 1-series owners believe they are driving a front-wheel drive car.
Reithofer explained that he is not worried about adding a front-wheel drive model to BMW’s lineup, but he did admit that the survey results on the 1-series came as “quite a surprise” to the automaker.
It's not yet clear what BMW expects the move to a front-wheel drive platform will do to the brand's image, though so far it doesn't look like the smallest BMWs are planned for the U.S. and these survey results show that the automaker doesn’t have too much to fear.
BMW will be using a newly developed front-wheel drive platform that will be shared with the next-generation MINI range. For more details, check out our previous story by clicking here.
[Automotive News, sub req’d]