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  1. BMW becomes the latest automaker to shut down its subscription service Access by BMW was a $2,000-a-month service that launched in 2018 BMW is suspending its two-year-old car subscription service, The Verge has learned. Access by BMW was launched in 2018 in Nashville as a pilot project to test out whether customers would want to have access to a fleet of fancy cars but not necessarily own one. But recent requests to sign up have been met with a disclaimer that the service is in the process of shutting down. A Nashville resident who was interested in applying for the subscription service was told that it was going to be defunct by the end of January. “Unfortunately the Access by BMW subscription program is ending on January 31st and we are no longer taking new members,” a sales representative said in an email. A BMW spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that BMW was winding down its pilot, though the company appears to be leaving the door open for future experiments. “The Access by BMW vehicle subscription program was launched in Nashville, TN in April of 2018 and was always intended to be a pilot program,” the spokesperson said. “As such, the pilot will conclude at the end of this month. We are in the process of developing the next iteration of Access by BMW and will share more information with you as it becomes available.” The spokesperson declined to share sales numbers but acknowledged that “the program had reached its capacity limits.” Despite the imminent shutdown, the Access by BMW website is still up and running, with a link on the automaker’s North American site redirecting to it. “A new way of driving BMW is coming,” the homepage promises. Access by BMW consisted of two tiers. For $2,000 a month, members could choose between models like the X5 SUV, 4 Series, and 5 Series sedans, including all plug-in hybrid versions. For the higher-tier $3,700-a-month fee, they could get M4, M5, or M6 convertibles as well as X5M and X6M SUVs. (BMW’s highest-end 7 Series was not available through the service). The fee included insurance, maintenance, and roadside assistance. If that seems a bit pricey, you’re not wrong. The top-tier $3,700-a-month plan is almost three times the cost of leasing an M5 sedan in the Nashville area (though a lease requires a down payment of $5,724 and doesn’t include insurance and maintenance). Subscriptions have been a mixed bag for the auto industry. Ford walked away from its service last fall following low demand. Cadillac shut down its service Book in 2018, only to resurrect it several months later with fewer options. Last summer, Mercedes-Benz pulled the plug its Collection subscription service, citing mediocre sales. Other automakers have had some success. Porsche, Audi, Volvo, Nissan, and Jaguar are still offering some variation of a subscription service. Even the big car rental companies, Hertz and Enterprise, are getting in on the action. Most of these subscriptions are only available in specific cities and are still in the pilot phase. Source: BMW becomes the latest automaker to shut down its subscription service
  2. The German car brand is accused of "sales punching" and could face big fines if found guilty. Falsifying sales data is bad news, especially if you get caught by the SEC. The folks from BMW must have never seen HBO's The Wire. If they had, they'd know that juking the stats is always a bad idea. According to a report published Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal, BMW is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC is looking into BMW's US operations because the luxury brand has allegedly been engaging in a practice known as "sales punching," in which a dealer reports vehicles that are still in inventory as being sold. This shows up as inflated sales, which looks good on a monthly balance sheet but causes all kinds of other problems down the line. If this falsifying sales narrative sounds kind of familiar, it's likely because Fiat Chrysler underwent a similar investigation a few months ago, spurred in part by Reid Bigland, one-time head of the Ram truck brand. That investigation resulted in FCA shelling out a little cash for a fine and promising never to do it again. We'd expect similar results for BMW if found guilty. Notably -- and perhaps because of these sales practices which got them in trouble -- FCA joined Ford and General Motors in transitioning to quarterly sales reports, rather than monthly. The Wall Street Journal points out that while the Big Three changed reporting, most other brands still report monthly. Neither BMW nor the SEC responded immediately to Roadshow's request for comment. Source
  3. BMW speeds up plans to electrify 25 new models, now due by 2023 More than half will be battery EVs, with plug-in hybrid versions of other models. In Munich on Tuesday, BMW revealed it is speeding up the plan to electrify its model range. Previously, it had committed to introducing 25 electric vehicles by the year 2025. Now, those EVs will reach us by 2023. Of those 25, BMW says more than half will be battery EVs, with the remainder being plug-in hybrid EVs (hopefully). "By 2021, we will have doubled our sales of electrified vehicles compared with 2019," said Harald Krüger, chairman of the board of management of BMW AG, in Munich on Tuesday. "We will offer 25 electrified vehicles already in 2023—two years earlier than originally planned. We expect to see a steep growth curve towards 2025: Sales of our electrified vehicles should increase by an average of 30 percent every year." The Bavarian car company has actually been rather proactive when it comes to electrification. It created the BMW i sub brand as a place to experiment with lightweight construction and electrification, which gave us the charming i3 city car and the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car. When it introduced the 530e plug-in hybrid, it bucked the trend of making PHEVs more expensive than their non-hybrid siblings, offering it at the exact same price as the plain-old 530i. As we've detailed previously, BMW's newest vehicle architecture is highly flexible, allowing the company to use any powertrain—internal combustion, PHEV, or BEV, in any new model using that toolkit. BMW says that this is the reason it's able to pull its timeframe forward by two years. Enlarge / These 3D-printed models illustrate BMW's future vehicle architecture that will allow it to use any powertrain in any new model. The model on the left uses an internal combustion engine. In the middle is a plug-in hybrid EV, and on the right is a BEV. (In both cases the models only show a portion of the battery pack, BMW is not planning on building lop-sided PHEVs and BEVs!) Jonathan Gitlin What do we know about these new cars? We already know about some of the models that are due in the next four years. Later this year, a BEV Mini will go into production in England. An electric version of the existing X3 crossover called the iX3 will go into production in China in 2020 and may be exported to Europe and the US. In 2021, production begins on the iNext, a similarly sized fully electric crossover that we checked out (in an airplane no less) last fall. You may remember that one as having an interior like a boutique hotel, which is surely not going to make it into the production version. That same year, BMW will also bring us the i4, which is almost certainly a production version of the I Vision Dynamics concept I swooned over in 2017. On top of that, there will be PHEV versions of the 3 series, 7 series, and X5; a China-only PHEV X1; and then new PHEV 5 Series and 2 Series models using the fifth generation of BMW's EV technology that should squeeze in more kWh and more range. BMW says that PHEV versions of the X1 (for Europe and the US) and a PHEV 3 Series touring (station wagon) are also in the works. At the event in Munich, BMW also unveiled the Vision M Next. It's pretty clear from the way the concept looks that it's a replacement for the i8, which should end speculation as to the future of that car. BMW says that the Vision M Next, a PHEV like the i8, will have 600hp, a 3-second 0 to 62mph (0-100km/h), and a top speed of 186mph (300km/h), which should comfortably outclass the recently refreshed i8, assuming the production car keeps to those targets. Listing image by BMW Source: BMW speeds up plans to electrify 25 new models, now due by 2023 (Ars Technica) (To view the article's image gallery, please visit the above link)
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