Replacing its second-generation Z4 roadster is not a top priority for BMW, the company’s chief engineer has revealed.
Speaking with industry paper Automotive News in Geneva, Klaus Froehlich said that while BMW hopes to replace the Z4 before 2020, reduced interest in the roadster market has made for a challenging business case.
Froehlich said the case for a new dedicated roadster is hampered by the Chinese market, where privacy concerns and poor air quality means that few buyers are interested in an open-top offering.
Buyers in the west have also lost interest in convertibles over the past decade, Froehlich said, pointing to Z4 sales reduced by 11 percent in Europe last year, and 13 percent in the US.
That’s troubling data for BMW product planners, when Europe and the US represent the Z4’s largest markets.
BMW is not alone in its droptop woes, however, with falling interest in roadsters also moving Audi to scale back its global sales expectations for the new third-generation TT range to around 40,000-42,000 - compared to 56,000 for the previous generation.
The potential for a new Z4 is not entirely diminished, though: the same partnership that will soon see the so-called Z5 hero model in showrooms could also help the carmaker reduce the cost of developing a more affordable new Z4.
And, as long as Audi continues to produce the TT, and Mercedes-Benz the SLK, BMW is unlikely to bow out of the segment all together.
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