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BMW puts fourth brand on hold -- for now

by Nick Aziz

BMW has not ruled adding a fourth brand to its automobile family, but any such plans are on hold for the time being, BMW USA boss Tom Purves said at the LA Auto Show.

BMW's current brands are BMW, MINI and Rolls- Royce. Earlier this year, there was speculation BMW might acquire Volvo or Alfa Romeo as a front-wheel-drive partner to MINI. BMW later decided neither company would be a good match.

There was also speculation BMW might acquire Land Rover and Jaguar from Ford, but this never happened either. In September BMW AG CEO Norbert Reithofer said no brand BMW evaluated for acquisition met its criteria.

As a result, "the plans on it are currently on hold," Purves told Germany's Deutsche Presse-Agentur news service at the LA auto show this week. However, he made it clear the plans were not permanently scrapped.

He said a fourth brand would probably be launched in American first. "The American market is a market where a new brand can be successful," he said. "Heritage is not such an important issue here. Therefore if you were to bring a new brand the US could be a location where you could do that pretty successfully."

He said BMW is good at managing brands, but at the moment its best opportunity is to "further expand the three brands we've got."

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