BMW is planning to launch 20 front-wheel-drive models in coming years. This will also include next generation MINI and cars based on the Concept Active Tour platforms unveiled at the Paris Motor Show. The first car to use this new platform will be the next generation 1–Series GT, which was previewed by the Concept Active Tourer.
BMW claims that the new FWD ULK platform is the key to its future growth and retaining the number one spot in the premium segment ahead of rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz. BMW also claims that around 40 per cent of BMW and MINI owners will go for cars based on this platform.
According to sales and marketing chief Ian Robertson, the premium small car class will become the fastest-growing segment and the ULK will aid BMW to benefit from this growth. BMW is relying on this new platform to help it keep it current best-selling luxury car manufacturer status.
BMW has tried to maintain its brand image as few of the best handling vehicles and has hence stayed away from developing FWD cars. However the demand for entry-level models with premium badging has forced them to finally go down the road, which is recently explored by Mercedes through their MFA (modular front-wheel architecture) platform. The first of the FWD cars from BMW is expected to go on sale by 2014, to compete with the Mercedes B-Class and the Audi A3.