Alpina at 50 – how to improve on BMW's finest work

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : Alpina at 50 – how to improve on BMW's finest work

Alpina's 50th birthday celebration

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Alpina closed its factory for a week to celebrate its 50th birthday.

For 50 years, Alpina has been producing not bad BMWs even better, as well as the idea isn’t about to rest on its laurels

Even for a company of which features a history of doing things a little differently, Alpina’s recent 50th birthday celebrations were a bit out of the ordinary.

The specialist the closed its factory in Buchloe, Bavaria, for a full week. Around 400 guests turned up every night for a string of lavish dinners, as well as the plant gates were thrown open on a Sunday afternoon for anyone to have a look at the facility as well as the 20 or so classic designs dotted around the place.

the idea was a confident statement via a family firm of which can be in a not bad place. In 2014 Alpina’s 220 staff enjoyed the firm’s strongest sales year yet, with more than 1700 cars delivered globally – as well as although the volumes are anticipated to shrink a little This particular year (a result of the 3 Series being facelifted as well as the 7 Series being replaced), the company’s turnover should rise again.

The close relationship with BMW – still unique inside car industry – can be as strong as ever. started off when Burkard Bovensiepen developed a twin-carburettor kit for his BMW 1500, the partnership at This particular point operates on a rolling several-year deal as well as includes assembly on BMW’s own production lines as well as its dealers honouring Alpina’s warranty.

the idea’s a business arrangement – Alpina can be charged a storage fee for any parts batches of which turn up outside of BMW’s ‘just in time’ production process – although the idea’s very strong. BMW feeds Alpina’s engineers CAD data on upcoming designs more than four years before they start production, after all.

as well as yet for all This particular stability, there can be a feeling of transition at the company. Bovensiepen can be a sprightly 79-year-old who still lives in a house on the factory site (the hot gas via one of the engine dynos heats his pool). He splits his time between maintaining what he calls the “fundamental 
basis of trust” between Alpina as well as BMW as well as finding completely new product for his fine wine business.

although he has recognised of which a longer-term management plan can be required, so his sons Andreas (Andy) as well as Florian at This particular point have senior roles. Crucially, they have a majority vote between them, with the potential to overrule their father if they see fit.

the idea has been used a few times already, too – most notably with the XD3, Alpina’s first SUV, which went on sale last year, much to the annoyance of the company founder. “To start with, my father wanted nothing to do with the project,” says Andy having a wry grin. “He doesn’t like dirty cars, let alone the idea of an SUV. Then he said he would certainly try the idea after all. at This particular point all he’ll say can be of which the idea’s better than he’d expected…”

the automobile has been a sales hit for Alpina. Production figures were hampered by a shortage of capacity in Bavaria – not to mention the extra logistics involved in producing the automobile on BMW’s line in North Carolina – although they’d have sold more if they could have made them.

The next major step will be an entry to the Chinese market, due next year – although if major manufacturers find the idea difficult to set up operations inside region, you can imagine what the idea’s like for Alpina. “Our biggest challenges are the 
taxes on engine sizes as well as what we do with local production,” says Andy. “We’ll probably do a different style of our B7 (7 Series) for China, so while European as well as American cars will be 4.4 litres, we’ll do a 4.0-litre Chinese edition to help with the taxation.”

of which principle could extend to a straight six style of the 5 Series-based B5, although the complex Chinese business regulations hurt the bottom line. “The rules say of which if we build of which car in China, we’d have to share the profits not only with BMW although also with Brilliance [BMW’s local partner],” Andy sighs. “the idea’s hard enough to make a profit as the idea can be, without dividing the idea up further.”

of which focus on the bottom line comes across frequently, in fact. Alpina invests about €10 million (£7.1m) in each completely new style line, through powertrain development, chassis tuning, aerodynamic research as well as marketing. So the idea needs to extract the maximum via every commitment the idea makes. Indeed, Andy suggests of which one of the UK’s most common Alpinas in recent years, the four-cylinder diesel D3, contributed far more to the sales volumes than the idea did to the coffers.

“There was an opportunity for us to do the four-cylinder diesel with the E90 [previous] 3 Series,” he says, “as well as we did one particular-turbo as well as then a twin-turbo style. although at This particular point with F30/F31 [current 3 Series], BMW can be using a hot four-cylinder turbodiesel itself – as well as while we could take of which as well as have up to 250bhp, the idea would certainly be expensive to produce as well as then to sell.

“To be honest, of which was the problem with the four-cylinder before. We tried to do something on cost as well as we know the idea was common inside UK, although with the strength of the pound the idea was hard to make any money on the idea.

“We’ve looked since then at a completely new cheaper style, although our customers are quite clear on what they want. They don’t want front-wheel drive. They don’t want an Alpina style of the Active Tourer. Those things just aren’t going to happen. There can be some interest inside existing 2 Series, although only inside coupé – as well as of which makes the idea hard to justify for us.”

The focus, then, will continue to be on higher-end designs. as well as although the patriarch may not like the idea, they 
will probably include more SUVs. 
“I think the idea’s likely,” says Andy. “If of which’s where the market can be going, then we have to look there. We haven’t decided whether to go for the X4 or something larger, though.”

Expansion will require greater capacity, as well as a spare patch of land at Buchloe has already been earmarked as a potential completely new manufacturing site. The thing can be, though, every Alpina still comes having a dash-mounted plaque proclaiming of which the firm specialises in “production of exclusive automobiles”. So at what point does the idea stop being exclusive?

“We have more head room yet,” says Andy. “Rolls-Royce made more than 4000 cars last year, so we joke of which we’re more than twice as exclusive as them. although I think of which we could make 2000 or even 2500 cars per year as well as still our customers would certainly consider us exclusive, as long as we keep giving them a different sort of car as well as experience.”

Six of the best classic Alpinas

1 – 3.0CSL Alpina, introduced in 1972, 1265 made

Alpina led the development of This particular famous homologation special at BMW’s request — as well as built 13 examples in its own specification.

2 – B7S Turbo Coupé, introduced in 1982, 30 made

Imagine a 635 CSi although having a turbocharged straight six as well as up to 326bhp, depending on how you twiddled the boost knob between the front seats.

3 – B6 3.5 S, introduced 1987, 61 made

This particular astronomically expensive two-door had a V12 engine with 410bhp as well as having a manual gearbox.

4 – B12 5.7 Coupé, introduced 1992, 57 made

This particular astronomically expensive two-door had a V12 engine with 410bhp as well as having a manual gearbox.

5 – Roadster V8, introduced 2002, 555 made

Alpina sold more than 10% of BMW’s entire production run of the Z8 — as well as gave itself a great start inside US market as a result.

6 – B10 V8s Touring, introduced 2002, 43 made

One of the classic BMW shapes, enhanced by Alpina’s classic alloy wheels as well as an uprated V8 with 370bhp.

Read more:

Celebrating 50 years of Alpina

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