The impact of climate change on BMWs
BMW and eco-friendly are two (well, possibly three) words that just don't sit well next to each other. They are a bit like chalk and cheese, as far as concepts go. BMWs were never meant to do a hundred miles per gallon; no, they were meant to offer the ultimate experience for drivers who like driving - and driving in comfort, at that.
Most BMW owners probably rate luxury driving performance as being more important to them than fuel efficiency, low emissions and the associated cheap car insurance rates. Whilst some may argue this is a horrible generalisation, it is likely quite accurate because these people have chosen to buy a BMW rather than one of the much more environmentally-friendly cars on the market.
However, could it be that hoards of customers are being put off from buying a BMW because of the brand's focus on performance over emissions? Well, apparently BMW thinks so. It has taken a leap onto the eco-bandwagon with its 5-series refinements and is crowing about its achievements in cutting carbon dioxide emissions.
According to BMW, the new petrol 5-series executives will utilise a direct fuel injection system, recharge the battery when the brakes are used, and have an electric (rather than engine-powered) water pump; features which are all designed to reduce the work required from the engine. All this adds up to better fuel efficiency and fewer carbon dioxide emissions.
Quite a lot fewer, in fact. The 320i has dropped from emitting 212g of CO2 per km right down to 182g/km, the 525 has gone from 210g/km down to 176g/km, and the 523i has made a similar jump, from 208g/km to 174g/km. Not bad at all - although not so good it will have every eco-warrior racing down to their local BMW dealer with cash in hand. But at least now they are about hitting the average UK CO2 emissions, which stand at about 170g/km.
Sounds good so far, but here is the crunch, the point that is going to make all the difference to many BMW enthusiasts. Have these changes come at the expense of "the Ultimate Driving Experience"?
Fortunately, it seems that BMW has managed to preserve much of the performance and drive which made its cars really special. For example, the top speed and 0-60 time on the BMW 523i have not changed, and it is still a pleasure to drive, with bags of power and responsive handling. Phew.
However, those BMW fans who know every whirr and hum that their cars make may notice some subtle changes in the revised 5-Series vehicles. One such change is the sound of the engine springing into life upon turning the key in the ignition. There is a slightly guttural quality to it, but only when the revs are low and once you get going this fades away pretty fast.
All in all, most will probably think that BMW has done a pretty good job with its set of refinements. But is going eco-friendly the right step for BMW? Will it simply drive their current market to its arch rival Mercedes or other manufacturers who provide no-holds-barred performance in their cars?
On the other hand, consumers might see that BMW is simply stepping up to its responsibilities as a car manufacturer and doing the ethical thing by modifying its vehicles as best it can with as little compromising as possible. The newer BMWs will certainly appeal as company cars, as its drop in CO2 emissions also means a significant drop in tax bands.
Only time will tell what impact of BMWs eco-friendly alterations is going to be on sales figures. However, with diesel engines undergoing similar alterations in the closing months of 2007, BMW owners won't be able to escape the fact that climate change is here, and it is changing their cars.
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Motor Insurance News ArchiveOctober 2007
Car insurance news 2005