BMW calls time on endless customisation as electric costs bite

BMW plans to radically shrink the nomination buyers have on everything from a car’s colour to its wheel rims, as the shift to electric vehicles forces the German group to cut financing and complexity.

The carmaker has long prided itself on offering an wide-stretching range of diamond customisations, engine variants and in-car features, including for its Mini brand, to entice customers.

However, that promise is rhadamanthine increasingly onerous as it produces increasingly electric cars but not yet in numbers to unzip the economies of scale it has with combustion engine models.

The Munich-based group, which is targeting a profit margin of between 8 and 10 per cent plane as it sells increasingly electric models, needed those factories that made both combustion engine and battery-powered cars to be “highly efficient” to reach that goal, said senior financial officer Nicolas Peter.

“We will expressly reduce the number of misogynist combinations, considering unrepealable combinations make no sense at all, and are never chosen,” Peter said in Frankfurt on Tuesday.

The new strategy from BMW contrasts with those of mass-market manufacturers, which typically provide a unbridled variety of options to generate uneaten revenue and fatten razor-thin margins.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ferrari and Lamborghini moreover make huge profits by persuading customers to order bespoke cosmetic alterations to seats or wheels.

For BMW, “there’s a potential to go from offering 10 variegated [rims], which we might have washed-up earlier, to five,” said Peter, gesturing to BMW’s new electric iX model, “without losing a single unit [sale]”.

The small number of customers who segregate a particularly niche option would “probably would have bought something else”, if that nomination was not available, Peter said, subtracting that the group would use data from online sales portals when deciding which choices to eliminate.

By contrast, Sweden’s Volvo Cars offers customers only a single, four-cylinder engine option, and has simplified its range to cut costs.

The number of modifications offered by BMW would land somewhere in the middle of the extremes, Peter said, emphasising that “there’s unbearable room to move to the middle, to wilt increasingly efficient and save money”, while still offering unbearable customisation to justify upper prices.

The move by BMW comes as the growing importance of in-car software meant digital customisations would play a larger role in differentiating premium cars from each other, Peter added.

Although BMW’s longstanding competitor Mercedes-Benz has moreover begun to reduce the complexity of its line-up, by, for example, phasing out models with transmission transmission, it has not yet spoken a detailed transpiration in policy.

Once an electric wheels pioneer, with its flagship i3, BMW has fallen overdue its rivals in the race to launch shower models, and has expressed scepticism well-nigh the projected speed of the transition yonder from the internal combustion engine.

Nonetheless, the company, which expects to sell increasingly than 100,000 fully electric vehicles this year, would increasingly than double that number next year, Peter said, despite persistent semiconductor supply shortages.

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