BMW brings the Alpina Performance brand into the fold

  • The small but highly respected German tuner Alpina has long been building its own versions of BMWs.
  • Today, the company is absorbed into the BMW corporate universe after 57 years of an arm’s length partnership.
  • Development of new Alpina versions of BMW will end at the company’s headquarters in Buchloe, Germany, after 2025, but that doesn’t mean the best isn’t yet to come for the BMW-owned brand.

    Alpina has long been a colorful exception to the size and scale of the major German automakers. The tuner was born from an unlikely diversification from office equipment to performance parts for BMW. The symbiotic relationship grew to the point where Alpina was building its own versions of BMW models with the consent of the larger company, even gaining early access to future cars to allow it to plan its variants. In the United States, Alpina distributed models like the popular XB7 through BMW, but in other countries the two companies were, at least nominally, in direct competition.

    But all of that is about to come to an end, with the news that BMW will take full control of Alpina, ending 57 years of partnership and, it seems, ending the development and production of new variants at Alpina’s factory in Buchloe, Germany, after 2025. Two reasons appear to be behind this, the first being the growing challenge of overcoming increasingly difficult compliance hurdles. “The politically motivated transformation towards electric mobility together with the tightening of global regulatory requirements – in particular on vehicle emissions, software validation and requirements for the protection of driver assistance and supervision systems – mean that the demands and risks for small series manufacturers are increasing,” said Alpina. in its official press release.

    When we spoke to Alpina CEO Andeas Bovensiepen at the European launch of the XB7 in 2020, he admitted that electrification was a huge challenge that the small company would struggle to overcome.

    The second reason, paradoxically, is the growing success of Alpina. Despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 was the company’s most successful year to date, with over 2,000 cars delivered worldwide. BMW clearly sees the potential to further increase this number and probably also integrate Alpina into its wider portfolio in the same way as the company’s own M division. (While M’s slip is pure performance, Alpina has always combined speed with increased luxury.)

    The official plan is for Alpina to continue building versions of existing (and future) BMW models at Buchloe until 2025, when the marque will be fully absorbed by the Borg business. At this point, we assume that development and production will be handled by BMW facilities. The Bovensiepen family will also create a new company bearing their name, which will continue to work with classic cars (we still assume BMWs) but will also offer engineering consultancy services to other car manufacturers as well as BMW.

    Alpina 3.0 CSL from 1971.

    Alpine

    We hope there will be more interesting Alpina branded cars in the future, but we also feel sadness at the passing of such an interesting and independent company, especially one that made such an art of automotive pintriping. .

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