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BMW ready to shift small coupes, convertibles to even-number nameplates

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 00:00:00 -0700

Reports in Europe say that BMW is planning a shake-up in the naming strategy for its smaller coupes and convertibles, as well as planning to shift its 1-series cars onto a front-drive platform.

The nameplate shake-up will have coupe and convertible variants of the 1-series become the 2-series, while coupe and convertible variants of the 3-series will become the 4-series. The changeover is expected to start in 2013, according to a report on the Web site of Car magazine.

The transition of the 1-series from a rear-drive to a front-drive platform begins in 2014, according to a story on the Web site of Autocar magazine. The front-drive platform will be shared with Mini.

The Autocar report says the first BMW products on the front-drive platform are expected to be a crossover--which would be a prime candidate for the U.S. market--and a station wagon, which we are less likely to see stateside.

In the short term, the 1-series and its variants will use a rear-drive platform, Autocar notes. Three- and five-door versions are launching now, with coupe and convertible variants--wearing 2-series badges--due in 2013.

The moves come as BMW rivals Mercedes-Benz and Audi are pushing aggressively toward launching new, front-drive small cars--some of which will find their way into U.S. showrooms, such as the upcoming Mercedes B-class. Mercedes previewed the next-generation B-class with an A-class concept at the Shanghai motor show in April.

By Dale Jewett