Mike Stevens | Mar 23, 2010

AFTER YEARS OF following a largely rear-wheel-drive-only philosophy, BMW boss Norbert Reithofer confirmed last week that his company would introduce front-wheel-drive models in the next few years.

Speaking with industry paper Automotive News this week, the BMW CEO said that recent statistics showed that around 80 percent of existing BMW owners already believe they are driving a front-wheel-drive car.

Mr Reithofer's revealing comment was offered after an analyst asked if the German carmaker risked confusing or alienating BMW buyers by adding front-wheel-drive models to its line-up. Mr Reithofer added that the statistic was "quite a surprise", but that it would ultimately help the carmaker as it shows that buyers are already open to the prospect of front-driven BMWs.

BMW development boss Klaus Draeger has said that the new FWD platform will also feature in the next-generation MINI Cooper, set to debut in 2014. The new architecture will be compatible with vehicles measuring 3800mm to 4300mm long, covering city cars through to compact/small cars such as the 1 Series (4239mm).

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