It’s been a while since automobile manufacturers have developed a vehicle destined to become the sort of quirky, underdog cult object that the likes of Volkswagen’s original Beetle or BMW’s original Isetta have, a rare occurrence in the past twenty years but it has been done. Diamler/Swatch’s Smart Car line is the best modern example I can think of. It meets all the requirements: small, underpowered, strange looking, often referred to as cute…
As could be expected, sales for the Smart ForTwo were stellar when it was initially released in the United States two years ago. But the novelty has worn off. Sales aren’t stagnant, but the little Germanic Chihuahua isn’t flying off the lots anymore. Maybe the American public realized that this vehicle isn’t best suited for American roads/lifestyle?
Hopefully BMW has been watching the sales of the Smart brand carefully, the brand hasn’t been doing that great as of late, evident in its withdrawal from Formula 1. Launching a new sub-brand in the U.S. that is near destined to fail is no way to boost sales.
This is, of course, all horseshit speculation, rantings from a pure Mobil 1 lubricated loon. So lets get straight to the facts.
BMW confirmed rumors yesterday of a new sub-brand, I-Setta. I-Setta will operate much like BMW’s M-Division only focusing less on smile inducing performance and more on mile per gallon increasing performance.
I-Setta is set to build little urban, high efficiency zingers much like the aforementioned Smart car. BMW has been referring to this new project as a “megacity vehicle.”
The new I-Setta will probably go the retro route drawing from the styling and emotional feel of the old single door, 13hp death-trap but with, hopefully, two doors and modern technology and amenities. My advice to BMW: sell a limited amount of them in the U.S. for one year and pump them out wholesale to the Europeans. Good luck.