In an interview with Automotive News Europe at the Geneva Motor Show, BMW’s chief engineer, Klaus Froehlich, disclosed that the automaker was preparing to retire the rear-wheel drive Z4 roadster in the coming years. The good news is that BMW is planning on launching a successor to the Z4 by 2020–but it likely won’t resemble the current Z4 E89 roadster.
The reason for this scrapping is that BMW executives recognize that demand for roadsters and two-seat coupes is decreasing in up-and-coming global markets–especially in Asia. “If you look at the volume…we have to realize that these segments are shrinking,” Froehlich explained.
According to him, Chinese consumers aren’t interested in open-air convertibles, which betray privacy and expose drivers to polluted air. That’s a lot of influence to give a demographic normally unheeded by European brands.
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In all fairness, roadsters haven’t been doing well the past couple years in Europe either. In 2014, Z4 sales declined 11% in Europe and 13% in the United States. Households which used to have a roadster as a fun, supplemental vehicle to their main mode of transportation can no longer afford one.
Thus, the demands of the Chinese market overrule the demands of BMW’s current biggest roadster markets, the US, UK, and Germany. The automaker has chosen to recognize China’s emergence as a top automotive market that will hold sway over the decisions of major automakers.
Likely, BMW will be sharing the development costs with Toyota, due to their joint sports car agreement. The successor to the second-generation hardtop convertible coupe has a lot to live up to, as the Z4 garnered accolades like the Red Dot Design Award and Automobile Magazine’s “Design of the Year Award.”
It looks like you shouldn’t be expecting to see that Z4 hybrid anytime soon.
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News Source: AutoNews Europe