The vehicles that BMW and Mercedes-Benz will bring to the US will be based on platforms smaller than those currently being sold there. What BMW will bring is a new front-wheel-drive family of cars in the UKL class. UKL is an abbreviation in German for lower-compact-class cars.
Last week at the Paris Auto Show, Ian Robertson, BMW AG board member for sales and marketing, told Automotive News that it will be a “relatively big segment” because there are several body styles being offered.
He didn’t provide details about the body styles BMW is developing but he confirmed that during the launch in the US, the vehicles will have a four-cylinder engine. Robertson also said that the new family of small cars will be introduced within the next few years, before the launch of BMW's Megacity electric car that’s expected in 2013.
According to European media reports, BMW is planning at least three variants. Starting in 2012, Mercedes-Benz will send three compact fwd vehicles to the US including one that has an alternative drivetrain.
The vehicle that would go on sale first is either a compact SUV or a coupe derived from the B-class platform. Both will not be wearing a B-class badge. Joachim Schmidt, executive vice president for sales, declined to reveal the names of these planned vehicles.
The US market will not be receiving the smaller hatchback that will start selling in Europe at the end of next year as an A-class model. Schmidt added that Mercedes will be adding a compact van featuring its electric drivetrains later.
Details and timing have yet to be determined but what Mercedes is considering is a fuel cell model or an electric with a range-extending gasoline engine. To fit the battery, the van will require a second floor. Schmidt said that with this method, the battery will not be encroaching on interior room. The fuel cell van is also expected to help Mercedes comply with strict US fuel economy standards for the 2016 model year. [via autonews - sub. required]