Face of luxury is changing, says BMW

BMW says what defines a luxury car is changing and premium manufacturers will have to focus more on details if they want to continue to charge premium prices.

The German luxury giant’s senior vice president product management, Hildegard Wortmann, said luxury car makers such as BMW would have to evolve to reflect changing tastes and expectations by buyers of luxury vehicles.

“There’s a new understanding of what luxury stands for, which is a strong evolution or revolution of where we are today,” Wortmann told Drive at the 2014 New York motor show.

“Being a leader, we think we need to be there progressing as well and doing different things.”

Speaking at this month’s New York motor show Wortmann pointed to the recently unveiled BMW Future Luxury Concept car that is a pointer to the upcoming sixth generation 7-Series luxury flagship. She said it was evidence of the lengths BMW would be going to in an effort to further build its image and sales.

“We had a lot of discussions about it internally,” she said. “Luxury is no longer adding chrome and bits and pieces to a car ... there is a new generation coming up where you have to deliver luxury in a different way, which is more about innovation, about craftsmanship, about the materials you use, etcetera.”

Wortmann said while BMW would be focussing more on materials and attention to detail the digital era meant it was more important than ever for luxury brands to maintain pace with new developments.

“If you look at all the consumer electronics in the car, we cannot offer old stuff when the world around is moving fast.”

Wortmann said there was no danger of the luxury market drying up, with increasing demand prompting major players such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi to increase the number of cars they offer.

“There will always be a market for luxury, top-end models,” she said. “There will always be customers going for the ultimate luxury experience and that’s certainly something we will deliver, but the definition of luxury has got to be at least evolving if not changing.”