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BMW ute is not going to happen


If you're holding out for a BMW-badged ute to do battle with the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, you can forget it, with the brand's top executives today ruling out an entry into the pickup market. 

Speaking at the Paris motor show, BMW board member and R&D chief Klaus Fröhlich said the idea of producing ute was simply "just not relevant for us".

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class was born of a collaboration with Nissan, with the three-point-star version based on the Japanese brand's Navara. But despite the recent Supra/Z4 collaboration with Toyota, Mr Fröhlich said HiLux-based BMW was out of the question.

Instead, any BMW ute would have to be an in-house product, requiring a bespoke architecture and huge development costs that the brand would struggle to recoup. 

"To do a proper pick-up up needs a ladder-frame architecture. If you do a monocoque body, this is very much compromised," Mr Fröhlich says.

"With Toyota, we have a cooperation on fuel cells, and they are the senior partner. And you can be sure on the sports car project, we were the senior partner. You will look at the Z4 and see 100 per cent BMW.

“(With a ute) we will never do something badge engineered. It would be a BMW. But every business case we have calculated, it was just not relevant for us."

BMW in Australia has made no secret of its desire for a ute in the range, with local boss Mark Werner admitting he'd been "pushy" with Germany about the concept. 

“We’ve been very pushy regarding utes and pick-ups,” he told CarsGuide earlier this year. “We believe that this is something that the company should be looking to. We’ve raised that with (global headquarters) and there are certainly investigations as we speak."

But it would appear those investigation have stalled, with Mr Fröhlich admitting he'd had to be the "bad guy" in saying no. To blame, he says, is the size of the premium utility market, with key executives convinced there isn't a big enough customer base to encourage them to develop a bespoke product. 

"The premium size of the market is extremely small," Mr Fröhlich says. “If you look at the current Mercedes’ figures, at the moment the run rate is less than 4000 cars a month.

“Worldwide, they sell less than 4000 cars a months. That’s unbelievably low, this volume, even with quite aggressive pricing. If that car is a success, then let's talk in 12 months.

"I’ve seen no evidence we could ever do a good proposition.”

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