After a prototype version of the BMW 1 Series 120i sedan – sans any disguise – was spotted in Munich, Germany early this year, many interested and potential customers had their hopes up that the German premium carmaker would offer the front-wheel-drive 1 Series Sedan in Europe. But to their dismay, BMW doesn’t plan to immediately bring the 1 Series Sedan from China to Europe, according to Autocar, citing a source from the German luxury carmaker.
While the new 1 Series Sedan is part of the BMW’s offering, it is not being offered in Europe since this so-called baby Bimmer is an exclusive product targeting affluent customers in China. BMW officially introduced the 1 Series Sedan at the Guangzhou Auto Show in China, hoping to take advantage of a new generation of car buyers that might shy away from larger premium vehicles that are currently the trend in the country.
BMW has already made it clear that the BMW 1 Series Sedan will only be offered in China. Autocar’s BMW source said the carmaker won’t be rushing the introduction of the 1 Series sedan outside of China, even though rival saloon model from Audi (Audi A3 saloon) managed to achieve much success in the global stage. Likewise, BMW’s reluctance to launch the 1 Series Sedan in Europe bears quite a contrast to a recent confirmation from rival Mercedes-Benz that its A-Class line-up will feature a saloon model in 2018.
Built in China in a joint venture between BMW and Brilliance, the FWD 1 Series Sedan will only focus on the Chinese market, according to Autocar’s source. This is primarily because small sedans (saloons) remain in high demand in China, whereas compact hatchbacks are more popular in Europe.
Moreover, BMW is wary that the BMW 1 Series Sedan would just cannibalize sales for its bestselling offering in Europe, which is the 3 Series Sedan. Notably, the BMW 3 Series Sedan offers higher profit margins than the 1 Series Sedan, and it would be counterproductive for BMW to favor the smaller car in Europe. Autocar’s BMW source hinted that while the A3 sedan has been a success, it also represents conquest sales against its larger sibling, the A4 sedan. Thus, introducing the BMW 1 Series Sedan in Europe at this time doesn’t present a good business case for the German premium carmaker.
BMW has already disclosed that it is currently conducting a study on the feasibility of offering the 1 Series Sedan in the global market. However, this would concern the next generation 1 Series Sedan in 2021. For now, BMW has plans to switch the next generation of the 1 Series hatchback to front-wheel drive architecture from rear-wheel drive platform, making it less costly to produce. The front-wheel drive 1 Series hatchback is expected to arrive in 2019, after which the 1 Series sedan could be offered in global markets.