BMW’S NEW 3-SE­RIES COMES WITH TECH AR­RAY TO BAT­TLE MERCEDES-BENZ C-CLASS

New Straits Times - - CBT - OLIVER SACHGAU LUX­URY

BMW AG has packed its re­vamped 3-Se­ries sedan with tech gad­getry like smart­phone en­try, auto-re­verse and an in­car as­sis­tant that learns driv­ers’ rou­tines, aimed at de­liv­er­ing a cru­cial sales bump af­ter growth slowed.

The best-sell­ing model, un­veiled at the re­cent Paris car show and avail­able in March, demon­strates how man­u­fac­tur­ers have moved away from lur­ing cus­tomers with lux­u­ri­ous trim­mings and en­gine choices. Car­mak­ers bat­tling in the mid-range pre­mium seg­ment that also in­cludes the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4 are not wait­ing for top-line mod­els to of­fer ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies.

“It’s a bell­wether for how BMW is do­ing as a com­pany,” IHS Markit an­a­lyst Tim Urquhart said.

“For the last 20 to 30 years, the BMW 3 se­ries has been the aspi­ra­tional ve­hi­cle of the young, up­wardly mo­bile pro­fes­sional, and that is not go­ing to change very soon.”

BMW, is­su­ing its first profit warn­ing in a decade last week, is work­ing to re­claim the lux­ury sales lead from Mercedes-Benz by 2020, af­ter its arch ri­val over­took the Mu­nich-based com­pany in 2016 with an ex­panded lineup of sport util­ity ve­hi­cles (SUVs) and over­hauled de­sign. While sedans have lost ground to pop­u­lar SUVs, the 3-Se­ries re­mains BMW’s top-sell­ing model.

While car­mak­ers are start­ing to churn out elec­tric ve­hi­cles, BMW will sit out of­fer­ing the new 3-Se­ries as a bat­tery-only car. A plug-in hy­brid ver- Mercedes-Benz holds on to the ‘pre­mium crown’ since pass­ing BMW in 2016 sion is due in sum­mer with an elec­tric driv­ing range of 60km. BMW AG plans to re­lease 12 elec­tric ve­hi­cles by 2025, start­ing next year with the elec­tric Mini.

To set it­self apart, the new €39,950 (RM191,000) 3-Se­ries in­cor­po­rates fea­tures like erad­i­cat­ing the car key. Driv­ers use their smart­phone in­stead to un­lock the ve­hi­cle and start it, by plac­ing the phone in a wire­less charg­ing tray. Once un­der­way, the car can au­to­mat­i­cally keep a set dis­tance from the car in front and it helps driv­ers stick to a lane in tight road­work chan­nels. In stop-and-go traf­fic, it can restart from a stand­still on its own.

The car can auto-re­verse as far as 50ms, help­ful in con­fined spa­ces, by back­track­ing its ex­act path af­ter record­ing steer­ing move­ments.

“It rep­re­sents the BMW brand like no other car,” said BMW de­vel­op­ment head Klaus Froehlich. “It is truly the heart and soul of BMW.”

PIC BY MARLENE AWAAD/ BLOOMBERG

The New BMW 3-Se­ries sedans at the Paris Mo­tor Show on Oc­to­ber.

Com­pany re­ports

Source: Note: 2018 data is through Au­gust

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