Alpina in the future

Ok we have one - here's an opportunity to have one - if you got a point of view about something and want to share it - here's where you do it.
Chas
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Alpina in the future

Post by Chas » Fri Feb 11, 2011 1:31 pm

I started this post as a reply to Brian's comments on why Alpina should bin Sytner but, since it's going to develop into a different discussion, I'll create a new thread on the subject. I'm going to go out on a limb here :roll: I think it's inevitable that the Alpina brand is heading for a 'merger' with BMW Individual GmbH.

I'm fortunate to have had the pleasure of over a dozen BMWs in the last 20 years but only the first one was actually a 'standard' BMW! The rest have been Alpinas, Alpina conversions, and one BMW Individual. The latter car was an E39 with an Alpina spoiler and, as many of you will know, it was very much like my current E39 B10 in look and feel.

For some considerable time, there have been two principal avenues for anyone looking for a bespoke BMW. They could go down the BMW Individual route - available from any dealer as a special factory order; or they could acquire an Alpina - available from any dealer in the UK who could be bothered with an unusual arrangement with Sytner.

The unique selling points of Alpina were the hand built craftsmanship, the distinct chassis number, the combination of high performance and comfort, and the exclusivity, none of which came as standard on any //M or BMW SE model in the range. The last time I looked into it, BMW Individual GmbH was a subsidiary of BMW //M. Individual cars had the same chassis prefix as //M cars and their marketing literature used this fact to distance themselves from 'standard' cars (sound familar?).

Times have changed and BMW now produce a huge range of models with varying levels of performance and comfort. Alpina's niche is getting ever smaller. I was sat behind a new Z4 last night and decided it was a lovely car but I recall the discussion as to why there won't be an Alpina version - the BMW version is already too much like an Alpina in the first place. :?

Recalling another thread, we are now at the stage where most (if not all) new Alpina cars never see Buchloe unless the customer wants to collect it from 'the factory'; an arrangement which must feel a bit hollow for all concerned. The 2007 factory visit I attended was all about handbuilt engines, a leather shop, and some secret R&D. However the small volume production line that I eagerly anticipated was not there, consigned to the misty eyes of history in the name of progress.

I suspect it is already possible to order an 'Alpina' in everything but name through BMW Individual... Just take a standard car from the production line, add a supercharger, tweak the suspension, and trim the inside with some decent material in a colour other than grey. Hey-Presto!

If I had to bet on it, I'd say the new facility in Buchloe is being built to accommodate BMW Individual GmbH which will be brought under Alpina management as part of a purchase of Alpina by the Group parent. Alpina will no longer be independent; it will be assimilated and standardised in the way that BMW Individual was from the start - retaining the kudos of distinction (final assembly outside Munich) and a unique chassis prefix but without the inherent problems of being a distinct model requiring type approval in the US etc.

If Alpina really wanted to remain independent (and I doubt they do), they would they need to do something more radical than just ditch Sytner in the UK..., they would need to look at alternatives to BMW. :shock: If that sounds far fetched, just consider for a moment the new city car announced by Aston Martin. A very individual Toyota with a price tag to match. Heck, they don't even touch the drivetrain. I'm sure Alpina could do a better job of it and you could get it in Alpina Blue :wink:

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Post by joylove » Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:47 pm

Interesting thoughts.

I for one don't see a problem with the Alpina cars being assembled on the main line. The assembly will be robotic, with lasers and thermal cameras watching and measuring everything to the minutest detail, and the quality of finish and repeatability of the assembly will be far higher than can be achieved by hand.

Alpina simply couldn't afford that kind of robotic hardware, and frankly shouldn't spend in that area to when BMW have it available.

As you say, the Alpina parts like a supercharger or trim could be placed on the car from a special bucket of bits in the same way as an individual, and again I have no problem there.

Alpina could R&D the parts, specifying how tight the bolts are and what map to load, and the machines will fit them right and repeatabley.

You can see the D3 and the success it has made of Alpina. Alpina could easily have folded in the last 10 years. Small car makers are almost extinct. The affordability of the D3 due to the production line assembly has made for relatively huge sales and saved their bacon. It has to be a model to follow in this day and age, nostalgia doesn't make for a lot of unit sales and hence profit.

I don't doubt the D3 volumes have paid for the new building and the reintroduction of the low volume B7 and also it's launch in America.

My only dissatisfaction with Alpina is the way the D3's only come in STD or Lux, and that there are few 'Individual' models, with wacky options. I don't know if this is because of the extra £1k fee any option makes, or if all diesel drivers are natural skinflints.

I would hope that if Alpina gear got added to the Individual program and made available coutrywide, that you would see more than the raft of grey, black and silver cars all with the same wheels and all with grey and black half leather interior for sale and on the road.

I still would however like to distinguish an 'Individual programe' Alpina as a genuine Alpina, so for example you couldn't get a 'badged up" wannabe, who only buys the wheels and the stickers but neglects the engine and the suspension. It should be all the parts under the skin first, and trimmings second.
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Post by ade and liz flint » Fri Feb 11, 2011 4:50 pm

joylove wrote: ....or if all diesel drivers are natural skinflints.
:oops: :dance
Current:
E91 B3SBiturbo #127
981 Porsche Cayman GTS
Focus STline dog wagon

Previously loved:
ALPINA: E92 B3SBiturbo #285, E90 D3Biturbo #097, E85 Roadster S #168 & variety of 'grey' 4 and 6-cyl BMW lumps.
PORSCHE: Macan S, Cayman 981 S

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Post by joylove » Fri Feb 11, 2011 5:18 pm

ade and liz flint wrote:
joylove wrote: ....or if all diesel drivers are natural skinflints.
:oops: :dance
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:lol:
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olli
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Post by olli » Fri Feb 11, 2011 5:25 pm

The biggest problem is that with ever increasing emission regulations, there are not may options to differentiate anymore.
power coupled with best possible emissions requires turbo charged engines so far. while before you could put a turbo'd 3 ltr in the B3S against the naturally aspirated M3 or the charged B5 against the V10 M5 and have totally different characteristics, now both will be pretty much forced using forced induction, so the playing field is pretty much gone, unless you find a complementary niche between models

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Post by ALPB1033 » Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:48 pm

In that case we should ask ourself what are we looking for with Alpina? Are we still seeking the traditional value(Handbuilt engine, Individual and Exclusivity) from it or changing the tradition and throw everything away that they are famous for and maintaining in the main stream to survive? That comes to the supply and demand of the goods/services to the customers avaiable. I do think Alpina know they can't provide the Complete product even though they are Gmbh registered as the development cost of a new model is in the mega bucks in nowadays automotives industry. Also the modern manufacturing technique employs in the production line have greatly improved with the aid of CAD/CAM advancement which induces tighter tolerence of machine products. The day of hand build improvement and correction is limited.
So the only way they can do is provide a good service for their customer in the sector that they are in at the moment. ie. the intersection of conventional car industry and the tuning car industry(in the case of Alpina the luxurious and perfomance sector). But at the moment the sole dealership in UK as we all know gives us a rubblish crap service for most of the Alpina customers (base on what we have received majoritily and only a small no. of people are satisfied). That may due to the high turn out of the sales people who don't have an indeep knowledge and core values of Alpina. What they are looking for is the sales figure and commission which at the end of the day provides them the salary to live on. I wonder how much introduction/training will be given to the sales people from the dealer?
Base with the 2 factory visits I did with the register in the past, I do know that the Alpina factory do provide a good service to their customers whether you are the 1st owner or the subsequent owner of the car. Each time they do the best to introduce what is going on with the car until the last visit we did. We even met the owner once and introduced their new product(a B3 biturbo) inside the factory show floor. You can imagine which CEO of a car manufacturer will like to talk to you in that sort of fashion?
I still remember Kris told us what Alpina have identified in the car industry segment(I think in Goodwood or in one of the promotion trips in USA) and Alpina is somewhere between the top end of Jag. and Ferraris. At the end of the day I think Alpina should be thinking what kind of partnership/relationship they should have with BMW in future. So that they can provide a product(in that case a car) in the automotive/tuning car industry. Or should they go to the consultancy in the car industry instead of making car? Just like those famous Italian Design houses. Or should it find another partner and build up a long relationship again? All these is the decision time and what the car market want!

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Post by vblanche » Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:53 pm

would be nice if someone from Alpina or Sytner read this and comment?
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mac
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Post by mac » Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:33 pm

Hi,
One plus point that would be introduced if Alpina was to be bought out by BMW is that the vehicles would have a THREE YEAR WARRANTY!!
If you look at the way BMW set up it's Mini Dealerships, Alpina could do the same but being a bit more selective as to which dealer has the franchise!
Maybe one dealer only in a 15/20 mile radius! Not necessarily building a purpose built building but could be just a specific area of the showroom dedicated to 'Alpina'.
I think this would still keep the brand select, not as select as it is now but still select none the less!
Then if this happened a dealer would have to maintain a certain standard or have the franchise taken away. It would not be left with ONE franchise to cream or be useless with service the likes of which we know Sytner can/cannot provide.
Comments?
Mac.

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Post by ajsmith » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:15 pm

ade and liz flint wrote:
joylove wrote: ....or if all diesel drivers are natural skinflints.
:oops: :dance
Yes that'd be it. How many petrol owners on the forum bought their cars new? Us cheepskate D3 owners that bought new are supporting the continuing investment in and production of the "proper" Alpina's. I for one stretched the budget to have the pleasure of owning the best car I could afford (to buy and run). I'd love to be driving an indiviudally spec'ed B5, but who the hell has the wonga for that? Footballers and bankers only I suspect, of which I am neither.

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Post by ade and liz flint » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:25 pm

ajsmith wrote: I for one stretched the budget to have the pleasure of owning the best car I could afford (to buy and run).
:D, Us too! And it's brilliant, so worth the stretch.:crazy:
ajsmith wrote:I'd love to be driving an indiviudally spec'ed B5, but who the hell has the wonga for that? Footballers and bankers only I suspect, of which I am neither.


We'd love a B5, too. thought all Alpina owners were employed thus :lol: :lol: :dance2:
Current:
E91 B3SBiturbo #127
981 Porsche Cayman GTS
Focus STline dog wagon

Previously loved:
ALPINA: E92 B3SBiturbo #285, E90 D3Biturbo #097, E85 Roadster S #168 & variety of 'grey' 4 and 6-cyl BMW lumps.
PORSCHE: Macan S, Cayman 981 S

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Post by Charles » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:13 am

ajsmith wrote:How many petrol owners on the forum bought their cars new?
I did 8)
Charles
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Post by ajsmith » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:27 am

Charles wrote:
ajsmith wrote:How many petrol owners on the forum bought their cars new?
I did 8)
I knew there would be a few, lit the blue touch paper - stood well back. Out of interest, what position did you play? :lol:

ade and liz flint
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Post by ade and liz flint » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:48 am

ajsmith wrote:Out of interest, what position did you play? :lol:
From the worn out engine, I'd say midfield general! :lol:
Current:
E91 B3SBiturbo #127
981 Porsche Cayman GTS
Focus STline dog wagon

Previously loved:
ALPINA: E92 B3SBiturbo #285, E90 D3Biturbo #097, E85 Roadster S #168 & variety of 'grey' 4 and 6-cyl BMW lumps.
PORSCHE: Macan S, Cayman 981 S

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Charles
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Post by Charles » Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:46 am

ade and liz flint wrote:
ajsmith wrote:Out of interest, what position did you play? :lol:
From the worn out engine, I'd say midfield general! :lol:
Ouch :!:

It's not worn out - just waiting for a midlife facelift :D

As for positions, I now coach - less physical exercise and more opportunities to think that I am in control ...
Charles
Teacher of Chemistry and driver of ALPINAs - not necessarily in that order ;)
B3S Touring (49/116) - been to the moon and now on the way back!
Renault Grand Espace - not mine but the wife's!

ade and liz flint
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Post by ade and liz flint » Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:56 am

Charles wrote:It's not worn out - just waiting for a midlife facelift :D
Career-saving cosmetic surgery :D
Charles wrote:As for positions, I now coach - less physical exercise and more opportunities to think that I am in control ...
Always good to think it, though from experience those thoughts are often quickly dispelled. :roll:
Current:
E91 B3SBiturbo #127
981 Porsche Cayman GTS
Focus STline dog wagon

Previously loved:
ALPINA: E92 B3SBiturbo #285, E90 D3Biturbo #097, E85 Roadster S #168 & variety of 'grey' 4 and 6-cyl BMW lumps.
PORSCHE: Macan S, Cayman 981 S

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