“Efficient Dynamics”

By Bruce McCulloch


That, folks, is what BMW calls protecting the environment; building more fuel-efficient and earth-friendly “eco” cars. Rather than sticking to the usual catch phrases of having their vehicles named such things as “LEV” (Low Emissions Vehicle), BMW deems such a name necessary to separate themselves from most every other company who practice the identical, uh, practice.

Mind you, this is not limited to their ideals and practices on emissions, but most everything; as of late, BMW has had the great tendency to label every basic and simple technological invention with some special name; and quite frankly, it’s a marketing gimmick which is just starting to piss me off.

Now, let us take a look at the many BMW marketing names.

“Active Hybrid”:
Rather than the simple approach at calling their upcoming hybrid system a mere “Hybrid”, it just has to be an “Active Hybrid”. So then, am I supposed to believe that hybrids developed by that of Toyota and Co. are non-active?

Furthermore, BMW says the Active Hybrid version of the X6 will feature “a high-performance battery” and a “high-efficiency combustion engine”. Now quite frankly, this is bunch of doo-hickey.

Sport Utility Vehicle (AKA “SUV”) used to be a hot type of vehicle, but it’s now a thing of the past and that’s why BMW chooses to label its X5 and X3 with the name of “SAV”. And thus indicates “Sport Activity Vehicle” – because it’s oh-so-good to advertise something that gives you an “active lifestyle”. Oh, please…

With BMW’s upcoming sporty X6 (the concept of which was seen at Frankfurt), BMW thought neither “SUV”, nor “SAV” was appropriate. No, instead the swoopy X6 is called an “SAC”. This indicates “Sport Activity Coupe” and you know, that’s really great considering the vehicle has four doors and is a 4X4 – no matter how pointless it is as one, but then that’s just about right for all “performance” SUVs and a whole ‘nother ball of wax…

BMW’s next addition to their lineup – codenamed the V5 with production slated for 2009 – will wear the acronym of “PAS”. And like previous mock-ups, this has some sort of deep meaning, or at least BMW would like to believe. “PAS” stands for “Progress Activity Sedan”. Which sort of reminds me of those inscrutable, tortured Chinese-to-English translations the Chinese are putting on their home-grown cars these days, and seems faintly ridiculous on a BMW.

And I’ve saved the absolute best for last,

What do you call a facelift of a vehicle? Well, I, like most everyone else, call it a “facelift” as it seems logical. But of course, that’s too simplistic, so BMW calls them “LCI”; or in other words, a “Life Cycle Impulsive”.

Now excuse me, but that’s completely idiotic. We all know that neither the true enthusiast, nor the poseur, is going to purchase any of these vehicles and call them any of the aforementioned. Additionally, our current market situation has a great deal of these vehicles selling themselves, even with stiff competition – so is there really a need for such linguistic embroidery?

And while we’re on the subject of marketing tactics from BMW, I’d like to mention my displeasure with the European brochure of the M3 that I recently got the opportunity to read. In this particular brochure BMW employs a series of aggressive marketing tactics to make its competition look weak-minded. And for comparison, they’ve focused on three other entities; the Porsche 911, the Audi RS4 and the Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG.

In the case of the 911, BMW’s strategy is to acknowledge the 911’s greatness as a sports car, but make note of its lack of usability as a daily driver because of its tiny rear seats and small boot space. And whilst the boot space is small and the rear seats tiny, a large number of 911 owners would argue that their car can comfortably be used as a daily driver. Yes, it’s most likely not as good as a daily driver as the M3, but is there really a need to make such a dramatic attempt at downplaying the competition?

And it doesn’t tone down as they give their expert insight on both the Audi RS4 and Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG. Their Ingolstadt rival takes a further beating when BMW insinuates that they themselves pioneered “the high revving engine concept”, and that Audi is clearly following their path. Additionally, they’re sure to mention the M3’s significant (lower) weight advantage over the RS4 due to the Audi’s implementation of AWD – which BMW claims has an effect on the RS4’s steering, labeling this “palpable”.

As for the CLK63 AMG, well, it takes the blunt side of the shovel when BMW claims the CLK63 is nothing but a GT car with an engine which is relatively un-interesting and a transmission which suffers from “long-legged ratios”. They finish the CLK63’s description with, “but it does not have the thoroughbred genes of the sports car”. What makes that particular quote quite idiotic is that BMW themselves explained throughout the first two sentences of the CLK’s description about how a GT car should be weighted towards comfort as opposed to sport and how this perfectly caters to the company’s customers.

Truth is, there isn’t much which BMW states that is untrue – the CLK63 is a GT, the RS4 is heavier than the M3 and the 911 is a slight less practical – but I simply cannot understand why BMW takes such aggressive marketing tactics. Companies that are reduced to making their competitors look weak generally resort to this because their product is not strong enough to stand on its own merits. This is not the case with BMW – despite the goofy names for their technology and their cars, they generally make fine vehicles. And it’s not like they have to worry about sales and what-not; after all, this is a company which on average, sells 10,000 3-Series every month in North America. Perhaps I’m just a nitpicker, but I personally find this tactic a bit much.

This strategy, combined with the aforementioned, increasingly idiotic naming conventions, has made me unhappy with BMW as of late. This is a company that occupies the rarefied air at the top of the automotive industry and it is employing cheap marketing tricks and insulting their able competitors. To me, it’s all a bit unseemly and shows poor form.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant.net – All Rights Reserved

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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  1. All car companies do this to some degree; BMW may be a bigger offender, but everyone does it. At least they make good cars, although they seem to have lost the plot on styling lately.

  2. I had a car once with a “jet-away” automatic transmission. Which, apparently was a lot better than a regular automatic transmission.

    Its marketing, my good man.

  3. Very timely article! I think BMW should let their products do most of the talking, and let the spinmeisters who have to hype mediocre products – do just that! In my eayes, BMW is a tehcnology leader. While other manufacturers are talking (and hyping), they are (quietly) bringing cars to the marketplace that are making significant advancements in terms of increased gas mileage and reduced CO2 emissions!

  4. I agree, it’s beneath BMW to resort to being sour about their competitors’s cars.

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