Century celebrations: BMW’s Head of Sales and Brand talks new GSs, electrics and 100 years of production

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BMW’s Head of Sales and Brand has revealed that new models will be arriving next year to mark 100 years of the German motorcycle division, as well as fresh electric drivetrains appearing every 18 to 24 months. 

Dr Alexander Wehr took over the position at the beginning of the year and confirmed that plans are well underway to mark the firm’s first century of motorcycle production, which began with the R32 in 1923. 

“You can expect a great party along the whole year,” he said. “And of course, there are going to be new bikes and there may even be some centenary versions that I’m not allowed to disclose at this point.” 

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Despite not being drawn on what would appear, he was quick to rule out an update to the R nineT retro range. This is despite the platform still using the air/oil-cooled 1170cc boxer twin from the non-shiftcam R1200GS and at least three new larger-capacity GS models having been already confirmed for the future, thanks to a mistake on BMW’s own service website.  

“There’s a really big fanbase on [the R nineT] and we’re about to pass 100,000 units in a few weeks’ time and the bike’s only been on the market for seven or eight years now,” the BMW man continued. “It’s been a huge success that we would have never expected. 

“We started with a niche within a niche, but I think it’s fantastic and the family we have built up showing very different characters of the bike. I wouldn’t see the need in the short-term for a change.” 

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Away from retros, Wehr was able to shed a little more light on the incoming GSs, accepting that fresh metal was on the way and hinting that we may see radar cruise control which already features on the R1250RT and some R18s. 

When asked about radar cruise, he said: “Everything you say makes absolute sense and if you do the mathematics, you may expect there are things to come.  

“At some point there’s going to be a new family of our main blockbuster,” Wehr continued.  

“I have seen the first concepts and I can tell it really is a step. 

“I think that the current customer base will be very happy with what they’re going to see from the new GS family, and I think we may even get new and additional customers.  

“We’re not the only ones, but I’m very confident with what I’ve seen in terms of a concept, in terms of clear character differentiation in terms of technology and practicability.” 

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We are also likely to see BMW invest more in electrification, with the potential for premium low-capacity plug-ins.  

“As we always said on cars, premium doesn’t necessarily have to go with a big size. On the motorcycle side and specifically scooters, capacity is not so much necessarily combined or connected to premium. 

“We want to have different interpretations to what we define as premium mobility,” Wehr continued. “I think every 18 to 24 months we’re going to have another offer with regards to electric drivetrain, so you can expect some more cool concepts and maybe a fully-fledged motorcycle with an electric drivetrain.” 

BMW has already dipped a toe in this segment with last September’s 120kg, 14.8bhp CE 02 concept and we could be set to see more soon. 

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Dan Sutherland

By Dan Sutherland

Acting News Editor, sportsbike nut, and racing fan.