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Good, Bad or Ugly - Current and Future styling trends of BMW



  • vsaxenavsaxena Posts: 203
    I like the new 7 Series Styling. The falling sales numbers could just have been indication of a poor economy for this range of cars along with the I-Drive. I do not think it was the styling only which caused the problem. I guess once the economy picks up the 7 series will start doing better.

    I can not like the new 5 series styling. The lines are all screwed up and the angled lights just do not do justice to the car. The only color I have found it tolerable is black. I guess once you can not see the lines of the car it becomes less discomforting. Even there the lights stand out. This car lacks harmony. It does not convey a feeling of balance. Contrast that with the looks of the new Acura or the MBs and the choice becomes a no brainer.
  • tlcmantlcman Posts: 220
    The X3 was a mistake, on road handling stinks and the lack of a low transfer case and absolutely no underbody armor makes this car an absolute flop... As for Europe.... the price of gas in the EU is astronomical, when I was there 2 weeks ago it was the equivalent to 5-6 U.S. dollars for a litre..... in other words you dont see many SUV's if any in the EU. Any light front wheel or even rear wheel drive car can travel throughout the EU and even to the mountains.... I believe I saw a total of 20 or so SUV's during my stay, and even in Germany, they are just to uneconomical...
  • bavarianbavarian Posts: 63
    I think you mean $5-6$ U.S. per GALLON, not per litre.

  • m4d_cowm4d_cow Posts: 1,491
    seems like audi and MB choose to remain on track, e.g stick to the old concept rather than radically change like bmw.
    audi's MMI is one example that the i-drive's concept is actually useful and it can work, that is when its applied in the right way. i-drive will need quite some things to fix to make customers accept it.
    throw in MMI instead of i-drive in bmws and sales will rise :)
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I don't know about those pics.....they're heading down the Bangle road with BMW's most prized car. All European cars are going to be puffy looking up front due to the new pedestrian safety standards. The new 3-Series and MB's 2006 S-Class will be the first to conform to these rules, meaning bigger hoods with taller front ends.....a designer's nightmare.

  • m4d_cowm4d_cow Posts: 1,491
    and its gonna have aerodinamical values equal to a box :(

    autoblogger: youre right, seems very agressive, and less banglism, amen to that :)
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    I think those are unbelievably frightening. If that's the 3, even if they bring the touring here with a decent plant, it's off my list.

    Maybe they should hire Christian Koenigsegg away from his own company for some real design...
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Hi all-
    Well, I just traded in a 2003 330xi for the 2004 545, and it was certainly not an easy decision to make. I hated the new 5 design when it came out (like many, many others here), but I have to admit that it has grown on me. I'm sure that's largely due to the fact that I own one, but it's also due to the fact that it's an absolute blast to drive. Don't know why some people think the interior has a cheap feel; IMHO it's just as high quality as my 330's was if not more so. Obviously the look of the interior is debatable, but I somehow doubt BMW spent less money on the materials than they did in the previous 5 (a good friend has the older body style and I don't think the interior of his feels or looks like it's made of better materials). I guess I just agree with those here that are saying that the new body style will take time to get used to, but that people WILL get used to it and probably even like it eventually. Nearly everytime a incredibly popular car gets a full re-design loyalists have a hard time with it. I'm not saying it isn't somewhat justified in this case, but I would say it's rare for loyalists to rave about a re-design of a car they love. But BMW absolutely has to stay on the cutting edge to design and technology which means they can't stay with the same body styles forever. Maybe the new 5 isn't for everyone, but it's a great car to drive, and I think I could train my black lab to use the iDrive. I'll tell you one thing though, like it or hate it, people certainly find it interesting to look at. I actually feel uncomfortable with how much people look at it sometimes!
  • vsaxenavsaxena Posts: 203
    Congratulations on the 5er. Once you are inside the car, I am sure the experience is worth the money. Make sure you take the scenic route to work.

    The exterior is a different story altogether.

    The problem with E60 is that it is not just the loyalists but regular 9-5 Office Folks, the 9-8 Silicon Valley nerds, most car mags, and most consumer mag who find the design discomforting. Two colleagues of mine refused to consider the E60 after looking at the redesign; they did not even want to go the dealer to take a test drive.

    A new model after 7 years should have prompted a large number of sales as the pent-up demand was released. The improving economy should have helped (the bonuses were pretty good last year). However, the E60 has not sold well.

    A new design will typically grow on people once they get used to it. However, there is something fundamentally screwed up with the design of this car which puts people off. For me it is the slanty lights which look completely out of place with the overall body style.

    The new 7 series also raised question marks. However it has gradually grown on people, since it did not lack harmony in the design; just newness and iDrive.

    However, E60 draws strong negative vibes, not just neutral vibes. There is so much that the Roundel/Props/Driving Experience can do to diffuse the visceral repulsion the E60's body style triggers. It will require retuning of most people's sense of harmony and balance to get used to.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    I guess I have to disagree, to some degree. Firstly, loyalists to a particular car design can have any occupation. What I mean is people (like myself) that loved the old 5 design. I remember lots more than just neutral reaction to the 7 as well. In fact, I don't know anyone that liked it all when it was first released. As far as harmony and balance go, they are completely subjective. Again, I didn't like the design at all when I first saw and for a good while after it, and it did grow on me. To tell you the truth, everyone I've shown it to thinks it's a great looking car and they are surprised that they feel that way. Maybe it's seeing the car up close and from different angles that matters. I also don't think the reviews from car mags were that bad at all even about the looks. Here's Car and Driver's: Most seem to say that the syling might not be to a particular individual's taste, but that's about it. Isn't retuning people's sense of balance and harmony what a car company should try to do if it chooses to lead the way rather than to follow the pack anyway?
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Sorry, forgot one thing. The sales figures for the new 5 aren't bad. In fact, if I'm reading the chart in the attached article correctly it looks like they've sold more 545's this year than 540's last year:
  • vsaxenavsaxena Posts: 203
    I do agree that likes and dislikes are very subjective. However there is almost a universal consensus that this car is went a bit too far.

    I am not a person with strong dislikes; I pretty much find something good in anything. However, I have tried my best to get to like the styling of the E60. Whenever I see an E60 on the road I hover around it; whenever I see one around the parking lot I circle around it. The car simply lacks harmony.

    It must be a great car to drive, especially with the new active suspension which makes the curves easier on the passengers. However, the exterior styling just not cut it.

    Car and Driver, self-acknowledged Bimmer fanatics have to say the following about the new 5ers; You can't miss the new 5-series. (We just wish we didn't miss the old one so much.) id=7573&page_number=1

    The sales figure for the new model year should have been out of the roof. After all it was a complete redesign after almost 7 years and coming at a time when the economy had finally turned the corner and people higher up in the ranks had a good year. 2003 model year, with the Iraq war and all was not really setting the high water mark either. On an year to date comparison, 18,568 E39s were sold last year vs 19,070 E60s this year; in May to May comparison the E39 actually outsold the E60 (4491 vs 4336). So even with weak comparisons, the car is not exactly a block-buster, barely keeping pace with the sales of a 7 year old model in an economy in the dumps.

    Also keep in mind that a lot of folks who leased their 5ers during the boom period of 2000-2001 would have been looking to upgrade the cars in this model year. There was a lot of pent up demand for people waiting for the new 5 series. Unfortunately, a lot of these buyers are looking elsewhere or are trying to get a low mileage E39 (just look at the resale values of the 2003 E39s).

    I envy you since you are driving a car with one of the best driving experiences. However, this cars styling will be a tough sell; and will remain so for in the future. I fully expect BMW to tweak the styling in the 2006 model year. I think the angled lights will be the one feature that will be strongly diminished.
  • m4d_cowm4d_cow Posts: 1,491
    true the new 5 handles even better than the old 5, though not by much. of course im talking about the one w/o SP. dont know why but i still hate the active steering, it gives me a hard time trying to communicate with the car whenever im driving it, particularly at lower speeds.
  • karmikankarmikan Posts: 116
    Eloquently said vsaxena. It's a bit of an escape route to suggest that negative views of the new BMW design philosophy come from E39 owners who don't like change. The view that is shared by most media sources (C&D, MT, R&T, Autoweek, Motorweek et al) is that you need to overcome the design flaws and drive the thing to appreciate its virtues. A design should compliment, not detract from the driving/ownership experience.

    BMW tried a radical new design direction that has failed. I assume they felt the need to attempt this because the E39-type designs were so widely mimicked by a number of other manufacturers that they were looking passe. But a good design is a good design. When I look at a 3/4 rear view of the E60 just below and behind the rear window and see all of those conflicting lines and angles it's like someone scratching on a blackboard - it just grates.

    Surely a better approach would have been to have taken an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary approach, much in the way that Aston Martin, MB, Jaguar etc have taken. Aspects of all of these brands are widely copied yet they stick with a fundamental design philosophy that retains a strong sense of continuity.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    One thing I disagree with is that you said that the design route BMW has taken has failed. What are you basing that on? The dislike some people have for the cars? As the chart that I posted indicates, though sales have not been through the roof, they were ahead of the old 5 year-to-date in May. One additional thing I wanted to point out to vsaxena is that to expect a huge jump in sales in a down economy (I also disagree with the suggestion that the economy is doing better; in fact the market is flat at best) when you're talking about a car that costs over $60K. Only about 5% of the population can even afford one (if that) so it's not like we're talking about the release of a new Honda Accord for $25K here. I realize that the old 5 out sold the new one for May, but the really relevent numbers from a sales perspective are year end. In fact vsaxena read tha chart wrong. The number where the old 5 out sold the new one for May was the overall 5 sales (525, 530, 545 and station wagons). The new 530 and 545 both out sold the old 5 (1783 vs 1773 for the 530 and 909 vs 518 for the 545 vs 540). Also keep in mind that the station wagon is not released yet so the old 5's overall figures include that. Bottom line is that year-to-date as of May the new 5 had out sold the old one 18,996 to 16,894 for the 525, 530, and 545 (vs. 540). So as of May this year they had sold 2,102 more of the new 5's than the old body style last year. At the price of these cars calling that a failure makes no business sense. And we don't even have the figures for summer sales which I'd bet are even higher for the new 5. Once you include the year end sales this year I'd bet the new 5 will have sold at quite a bit more than last year's model. So though I agree that some people don't love them, that's not being reflected in sales at all.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Just for simplicity's sake here's an interesting way to look at this from a sales prespective. The 2,102 more new 5 series cars they sold probably represents about an $105,050,000.00 (I used and average price of $50,000) increase in gross sales over 2003 5's. And that's only as of May! I realize that isn't real accounting, but it certainly shows that BMW isn't crying about the new designs. Think about that for the entire year. I bet they'll end up selling about 5000 more new 5's this year than last. Using the $50,000 average price that I used above that's an increase in sales of $250M for 2004. Keep in mind also that January through May are probably the slowest sales months, and that they had and still have very limited stock of the new 5's (trust me, it was really hard to find the 545 I wanted). I know, get a life rather than posting all of these figures! I just think that it's important to separate personal feelings from business facts. Sure BMW would love to have everyone the owns an old 5 come back for a new one, but realistically as long as sales are meeting their projections (which none of us knows for sure) they really don't care.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    Using the sales figures from the October 2004 issue of Bimmer magazine, covering YTD thru May:

    E60 525i sedan= 7081
    E39 525i sedan= 6699

    This is a small increase of only 382 units or only 5.7% increase.

    E60 530i sedan= 8124
    E39 530i sedan= 8082

    This is an even smaller increase of only 42 units or a miniscule .5% increase.

    E60 545i sedan= 3773
    E39 540i sedan= 2113

    This is a substantial 1660 unit increase or a huge 79% increase.

    The totals:

    E60 sedan= 18996
    E39 sedan= 16894

    This is an increase of 2101 units or 12.4%.

    BUT... Keep in mind that the E39 came out in CY1996 as a MY1997. So the E39 sales data from CY2003 comes at the end of its lifecycle. The E60 sales data comes at the start of its lifecycle, when it is making the biggest "splash" in the market and minds of consumers.

    Would be interesting to see the following:

    - What were BMW's internal sales projections?
    - How much did BMW spend on research and development of the E60 and what incremental increase in costs to put it into production?
    - What are the E60's marketing costs?
    - Is BMW using incentives to move E60s?
    - How much did it cost BMW per unit to produce E39 and E60? Does the E60 cost more to produce per unit?
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Looks like we're using the same chart. I agree that it would be interesting to see what BMW's projections are, but we're most likely never going to know that. One thing you forgot to mention though was that BMW was also giving great deals on the 2003 E39 at the end of it's lifecycle to move it so that probably ramped up sales of it right at the end a bit. Also, would you agree that January through May is the slowest time sales-wise for cars? I don't know about you, but that's the time that I'm least likely to buy a car. It's the beginning of the model year still, I don't want to buy a new car in the dead of winter, and you're probably least likely to get a good deal then. Most people buy cars in the spring, summer and fall. So it would be interesting to see what sales are like May through year-end. Not sure what BMW's fiscal year is though. In all, I'm not saying it's a hugely successful launch of a new design, but then I don't work in the car industry so I don't know what would qualify when you're talking about very expensive cars. What I do know is this, just about any company out there would take a 12.4% increase in sales during their slowest period in a down economy. Hardly a failure. But as you said, there are other unknown costs to consider. Who knows how much money BMW has made (or lost) really. All that I'm getting at is that people assume sales are down when in fact they are not at least as of May.
  • vsaxenavsaxena Posts: 203
    Rich, I did not see the chart wrong. I was comparing TOTAL E39 vs E60 numbers since the focus is on the exterior styling which is common across all the models (525, 530, 54x etc.). I feel that the total number is a good indicator of the appeal of the design. The fact that the higher end models sold better actually highlights my case about the pent-up demand.

    The higher-end cars are bought by people who are not price sensitive but more brand loyal. This may be because of the enthusiast factor or the brand image factor. These folks were waiting for the redesign and ordered it as soon as they were available. They want the "best" BMW and nothing else.

    It is marginal buyer, who is considering multiple cars who will actually determine the success of the model-line. The marginal buyer will cross-shop and also focus on price. This is the segment that which will form the bulk of the 525 and some of the 530 buyers. The drop(or flatlining) in sales here, especially of the 525, is an indication of the problem. Once the pent-up demand and the novelty of the new design wears of, the E60 will have to compete against other cars. I am not too optimistic about that.

    One may have argued that the E60 models were released in a staggered manner, and hence, the year to year comparisons are not kosher. However, the May numbers, when all the models were in general availability tend to discredit that concern.

    Finally, I think the economy is doing much better than last year's doldrums. The typical 5 series buyer is in middle management or higher (30 years +). These folks did well last year; last year's Wall Street bonuses were the best in a few years. Many folks also made a killing in the stock market last year and have more money to spend now than last year.

    reiz: I think there was a $1000 incentive around for the E60, though I am not sure.
  • m4d_cowm4d_cow Posts: 1,491
    still looking at the sales figures, i agree that the new 5er isnt doing that well.
    most people dont usually bother to buy something thats at the end of its lifecycle, in this case the e39, they prefer to wait a year or less for a newer model, yet the sales isnt doing that great, even with better economical situations.
    to me it already proves just how well the e60 will sell.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    I'd agree with that appraisal.

    I think anniversarying YTD sales from last year doesn't tell the whole story. For one thing we have departing model, and as soon as new model particulars make the scene, a current lame duck begins to slow, usually.

    Better might be to compare the OA sales boost percentage YTD for the E60 against the first-year sales boost percentage for the E39 ('98?), if such figures are available.

    I would imagine this new model is relatively flat when all is said and done. I suggest it has alienated about the same number as it has converted (retensions valuing at zero in the equation)...
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see until more sales figures are available for this year. Until then the best anyone can do is speculate on who buys what when or what indicates good or bad sales numbers. Early next year we should know for sure. All I was saying is that sales are not in fact lower given that 2101 more units had sold so far. As for the reasons for that, everyone has an opinion. As far as the car itself goes, it's one of those love it or hate it things. I certainly wouldn't try to convince anyone that hates it to buy it; in fact it really only matters that I like it to me. Vsaxena-Sorry, probably shouldn't have said you looked at the chart wrong. What I meant was that since the station wagon and M5 are not yet available the total 2003 5 sales can't be accurately compared to 2004 until you delete the station wagons and M5 from the 2003 numbers. I would also say that we won't really know whether this redesign was a success or failure until years down the road (no pun intended).
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    No two ways you are correct about the appeal.

    I'm quite certain it's an engaging and satisfying drive, and if the outside speaks to you, well, that's all she wrote!

    I lusted seriously after the '02-03 E39, and for me, this gen isn't a step forward in styling. But that's my own deal!

    I don't really think there's a mfr out ther right now with a real solid handle on styling, other, maybe, than Mazda. To some extent Aston as well, I guess.

    Everybody seems to be casting about for the next big wave to ride, and I don't see anyone who's really caught it!
  • saugataksaugatak Posts: 488
    I agree that the new e60's sales aren't impressive considering that it's a new model.

    However, in addition to the e60 style being a little strange and offputting to many potential buyers, there are 2 other factors that might have led to lower sales: 1) sales of X5, lots of people are taking an SUV over a car; and 2) increased prices on e60.

    IMO, the increase in prices is the main reason sales of e60 have declined, then the strange looks and lastly the X5 is cannibalizing some 5-series sales.

    I'm seeing more e60s on the road now and IMO, it's the strangest looking car I've ever seen. I like some of the individual design elements a lot, they're very creative and well done.

    But there's too many design elements and they don't work well together, instead they're competing for your attention. I haven't seen any other car that looks so different in different colors, and I think this is the result of too many contrasting styling elements.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    There are lots of E60s in my neck of the woods and I like the vehicle more and more. As a contrast, while I have only slightly warmed up to the G35/Nissan styling after two years, after a few months the new Bangle version of the 5 series have grown on me tremendously. Can't wait for the unveiling of the new 3-series.

    I think in the long run, once they tweak the overall design it'll be awesome.
  • vsaxenavsaxena Posts: 203
    There are pictures of the new 3 series (2006) on the 3 Series boards. Finally there is a Bangle car which works. It seems to have a lot more harmony than the E60. After the Z4, may be the best designed Bangle car.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    The Z4 is gorgeous and the new is a car of a different ilk, but they did a great job with it.
  • karmikankarmikan Posts: 116
    In an idle moment, I was reading through some old auto magazines and came across an interview with Henrik Fisker, the designer of the universally admired and drop-dead-gorgeous Aston Martin DB9. Here are a couple of quotations:

    "I think the back-to-basics approach may be a function of us almost exhausting how much new technology we can pack into a car and still make it practical and usable for most consumers."

    "I've gotten a lot of inspiration by looking back at what made the human fall in love with cars. Buying a car is such an irrational and emotional behavior, that I have to figure out what it is that they love. Really, who needs a car that costs more than say $15,000? I'm trying to capture the sense of the emotion and love affair that people have with cars."

    These are two statements that seem to encapsulate much of what has been expressed here and elsewhere regarding the E60 design. BMW's current direction appears to be very much at odds with Fisker's thinking. The latest sales figures for the E60 show a steady decline which, I believe, will continue now that the early adapters have already bought. Meanwhile, there's an 18 month waiting list for the DB9 (I know that it's a limited production vehicle but it also costs $160K+ so it's all relative).

    The market is speaking, I wonder if anyone at BMW is listening.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    The market is speaking across all BMW models; not just the re-designed models. Here are July and year-to-date sales for the 3 series which has not been changed:

     3 Series
    July 04 YTD 04 July03 YTD03
    8,823 63,777 9,952 68,924

    Now, I know people will say that is because of the impending 3 redesign, but we can't prove that. X5 sales were also down. To me, the sales decline has less to do with the Bangle designs and much more to do with the overall economy and oil shortage fears. I know that there are some here who think the economy is doing better. I work in finance and I disagree. Most portfolios are flat at best and most major market indicators are down. Unemployment is still high. Gas prices are high. None of that adds up to great sales.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    I agree, there honestly isn't any difference between a moderately loaded 330i and loaded G35. They are both expensive. If I were to pass on the 330i on price, I would pass on the G35 as well.

    The only thing I disagree with is the cutoff $15,000. It should be $10,000. A lot of expensive restaurants are also feeling the pinch. However people are crammed like sardines into the $6 buffet all you can eat place.
This discussion has been closed.