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BMW considers future of small front-drive combustion cars

BMW considers future of small front-drive combustion cars

According to a source at the company, the next generation of small front-wheel drive BMW models is currently “under review”.

Following the recent launch of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and the launch of a new range of Mini models next year, the native front-driven UKL architecture underlying it will be 12 years old by 2027 and due for replacement.

Autocar understands that a problem for a platform like UKL in the European market is that by 2027 most cars with combustion engines should probably be plug-in hybrids with a range of around 40 miles. This would require greater architecture, resulting in longer and more expensive vehicles.

The BMW source told Autocar that a review of these smaller UKL-based models was underway as senior planners and officials rethink the business model of producing smaller vehicles.

“There are a number of things we need to keep in mind,” said the source. “First, the size of UKL makes electrification more difficult because the potential size of a battery is limited.

“Secondly, the size of UKL is an issue. [Cars based on it] selling in very low volumes in the US. The biggest potential market is probably China, in the smaller cities, but there they only want a sedan [saloon], instead of a hatchback. But the volumes are quite good and such a car is important as ‘my first BMW’. If we left that market, we would be giving away market share to rivals.”

Another important consideration for BMW is the delayed Euro 7 regulations, which are not expected to arrive in their final form until this summer. It remains possible that these exhaust pipe fouling rules will at the very least require more space under the floor for a significantly larger catalytic converter. Again, this could push makers towards larger vehicles, which will also necessarily be significantly more expensive.