The BMW E82 1 Series came to the States in 2008. Since then, it hasn’t sold very well. In fact, BMW has sold more of its brand-new 3 Series in the last seven months than it has 1 Series units in the last six years. BMW never really expected the 1 Series to be a big success and brought the vehicle over at the behest of BMW fanatics.
Now there’s a new front-wheel drive 1 Series, the F20, and BMW isn’t likely to bring it to the U.S. market, according to Car and Driver.
This is a rather intriguing development, though, as the BMW’s home country rivals Mercedes-Benz and Audi are racing entry-level sedans to the American market: the CLA and the A3.
Why has bimmer backed off? The answer is multifaceted.
First off: sales. As we mentioned above, there’s never been a big market for the 1 – and that was when it was a rear-wheel drive coupe. Move the drive wheels to the front, neutering much of the BMW driving dynamics, and sales are likely to further slump.
Secondly, BMW owns MINI. Many MINI models share a lot of components in common with the new 1 Series. BMW doesn’t want to compete against itself on U.S. shores.
In terms of cost, the F20 1 Series is built in Germany. Shipping the 1 Series to the U.S. to then compete at the sub $40,000 mark might become a losing proposition. And Germans don’t like losing money.
Lastly, and perhaps most compelling for customers, BMW offers an entry-level 320i here in the States for around $33,000 that is virtually identical to the 328i but with slightly less power.
We don’t know about you but for $33,000 we’d rather have a rear-wheel drive sedan from BMW than a front-wheel drive 1 Series BMW compact hatch – or a front-wheel drive sedan from Mercedes for that matter.