2020 BMW ALPINA XB7

Since the 1960s, Alpina has been taking the best BMW has to offer and making it even better through thoughtful modifications and unmatched attention to detail. Although Alpina has occasionally been compared to BMW M, the Buchloe-based tuner-turned-manufacturer predates BMW’s own performance-oriented subsidiary, and builds far fewer cars while maintaining a focus on balancing performance and luxury. Alpina was founded in 1965, started manufacturing vehicles based on BMW models in 1978, and has been recognized as its own manufacturer by German regulators since 1983. Now, the BMW Group is acquiring the Alpina brand, which will allow the small, specialized operation to continue on in the rapidly changing automotive landscape.

“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. For over fifty years, the Buchloe firm has demon­strated how to deliver top-quality car cachet through meticulous attention to detail. The BMW Group is also driven by this same passion for cars that capture the imagination. That is why we are now embarking on a new chapter in our long-standing partnership. Acquiring the trademark rights will allow us to shape the long-term course of this brand steeped in tradition. We are delighted to welcome the ALPINA brand to the BMW family,” said Pieter Nota, member of the Board of Management responsible for customer, brands, and sales.

Alpina B8 Gran Coupé

Some of the contributing factors that weighed heavily into the decision to sell the family-owned Alpina brand to the BMW Group include the global shift toward electric vehicles, ever-increasing regulation that varies by market, particularly that which is concerned with emissions, software validation, and growing requirements for driver assistance and monitoring systems. These factors and their overarching combination represent significant risk for a small-series manufacturer like Alpina, which employs approximately 300 people and built around 2,000 vehicles in 2021, the brand’s most successful year yet. To put that in perspective, Rolls-Royce, another BMW Group brand with even greater exclusivity, produced 5,586 vehicles in 2021, and also had its best year ever.

“We recognised the challenges facing the automotive industry early on and are now setting the right course for ALPINA and for our family firm, BOVENSIEPEN. This marks the beginning of a new chapter,” explained Andreas Bovensiepen, co-managing director of ALPINA Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH + Co. KG. “Both the ALPINA brand and our company are extremely desirable. 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. That is why it is the right decision strategically for the ALPINA brand to be managed by the BMW Group in the future.”

No financial details of the acquisition have been divulged by either party and no Alpina shares have been acquired by BMW. The current five-year agreement between BMW and Alpina was signed in late 2020 and extends through 2025. Until then, the practice of Alpina models being initially manufactured at BMW’s various factories and then sent to Buchloe for further customization and completion will continue. Although BMW installs the Alpina-developed engines and transmissions, work related to Alpina’s interior treatments, aerodynamics, and chassis modifications all occurs in Buchloe. This will change after 2025, but the service, parts, and accessory side of the business, supporting both the existing and legacy Alpina vehicle lineups will continue at the manufacturer’s Buchloe location for the long term, along with after-sales cooperation between Alpina and BMW. Development of Alpina models will be expanded in Buchloe, likely thanks to the resources of the BMW Group. Finally, the Bovensiepen family’s wine business, known as Alpina Wein, will continue on unaffected by the acquisition.

2020 Alpina B7

“BMW and ALPINA are a perfect fit! The ALPINA brand has matured alongside BMW over the past 50 years and has everything it takes to make the heart of an automotive connoisseur beat faster all over the world. It finds the right balance between cultivated sportiness, luxury, and exclusivity. We are delighted to acquire the trademark rights to ALPINA and add new vehicle capturing DNA to the BMW portfolio,” said Jens Thiemer, senior vice president of customer and Brand at BMW.

“We will continue our father’s life’s work and invest in the equally well-known name of BOVENSIEPEN. With our expertise and high standards of quality, we will bring other convincing mobile offerings to the market in the future,” explained co-managing director Florian Bovensiepen. “Without our creative, highly capable, and loyal employees, ALPINA’s success story would not have been possible. We are relying on the strength of our company, our team, and our families to pivot at the right time. At the same time, we acknowledge, with the BMW Group, our social responsibility towards our workforce and will do our best to cushion the potential impact resulting from this reorganisation.”

The BMW Group acquiring the trademark rights to the Alpina brand and the impending discontinuation of the current Alpina vehicle program which sees vehicles reach completion in Buchloe at the end of 2025 will result in job loss for existing positions. In response, BMW has stated that it will support Alpina by assisting with necessary workforce adjustments through working with the company to offer employees new positions within the BMW Group and to help them find jobs with BMW’s suppliers and development partners.

Alpina models currently available in the U.S. include the 8 Series-based Alpina B8 Gran Coupé, the 7 Series-based Alpina B7, and the X7-based Alpina XB7, the latter of which is built and completed at BMW Group Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina.—Alex Tock

[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]

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