BMW purchases long-time tuning affiliate Alpina

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BMW has purchased Alpina outright. If you thought this had already happened you would be forgiven, as the German tuner’s lineup is comprised exclusively of BMW cars and its models are even assembled in BMW factories. Though the two companies have always enjoyed a close relationship, it’s now official, with Alpina joining Mini and Rolls-Royce in BMW’s portfolio of brands.

Though neither company disclosed the financial details, they did cite the rapidly changing automotive landscape as impetus for the deal. “The automotive industry is in the midst of a far-reaching transformation towards sustainable mobility. For that reason, existing business models need to be re-examined on a regular basis,” said BMW’s Pieter Nota, who sits on the board of management overseeing Customer, Brands and Sales.

In a release, BMW cited the fact that strict emissions rules and increasingly complex safety features, especially in terms of driver assistance, have made it more and more difficult for specialty, small-volume manufacturers — like Alpina — to go it alone.

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Alpina was originally a typewriter manufacturer, but in the 1960s they began modifying BMW cars with bigger carburetors and more-aggressive camshafts. That put the company on a path of increasingly ambitious offerings, from hand-built engines to more luxurious interiors. Nowadays, Alpina is recognized by the German government as a manufacturer, like Ruf. Some models have engines built by Alpina and then shipped to BMW factories for assembly on BMW lines. After some assembly, these cars are then delivered back to Alpina for fine-tuning.

BMW and Alpina had renewed their contract in late 2020, and that contract is set to expire in 2025. When it does, we’ll see the “discontinuation of the current Alpina vehicle program,” BMW relayed in a statement. When that happens, BMW says it will help Alpina employees find work within the BMW Group or with suppliers. Parts, sales, and after service will continue at Alpina’s Buchloe location just outside of Munich.

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BMW gave no indication of what it plans to do with the Alpina brand. In total, the firm sold just 2,000 cars last year. Whereas BMW’s M brand has been geared toward on all-out performance and racing, Alpina focuses more on grand touring, opting for engines with more low-end torque than high-end horsepower on some models when compared to their BMW M counterparts, for example.

“We made a conscious decision not to sell Alpina to just any manufacturer, because BMW and Alpina have worked together and trusted one another for decades,” said Andreas Bovensiepen, co-managing director of Alpina and descendant of founder Burkard Bovensiepen. “That is why it is the right decision strategically for the ALPINA brand to be managed by the BMW Group in the future.”

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