MUNICH - BMW may build a spiritual successor to the legendary 6 series coupe that went out of production in 1988.
Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder said BMW is leaning towards producing a coupe/convertible that would be smaller than the current 8-series coupe.
The 8 series, launched in 1989, has been a sales disappointment. Pis-chetsrieder said the car suffered because no convertible was offered.
He said the new coupe under study is 'not in the 8 class.'
Sources say it would be based on BMW's mid-range 5 series sedan, and would sell against the Mercedes CLK coupe and convertible.
The 6 series was a favorite of enthusiasts. BMW built 70,000 from 1976 until 1988. Peak annual sales were 10,000. BMW expected to sell 10,000 8-series coupes a year after it was launched in 1989, but sales never topped 8,000. They fell to 1,700 in 1997.
Sources say that the new coupe could be on the market 18-24 months after a decision to proceed. They say BMW has not decided to stop building the 8 series.
Meanwhile, Pischetsrieder said BMW is targeting other niches, including a hybrid sport-utility to be built at Spartanburg, North Carolina.
Late next year, BMW may also expand into the super-luxury car segment. It is interested in buying Rolls-Royce Motor Cars from Vickers plc.
But if Rolls goes to a competitor, Pischetsrieder says BMW will stop delivering engines and components for the new Rolls and Bentley sedans and might build its own Rolls-fighter.
Pischetsrieder said it would be 'a full BMW - not a Maybach and not a Julybach.' Maybach is the name of the potential Mercedes-Benz car in the Rolls class.
Pischetsrieder said BMW won't mimic others as it moves into new segments. 'We'll stick to our identity rather than design a car to match competitors,' he said. 'We want to create our own segments.'
New 3- and 5-series challengers are planned from competitors like Lexus and Jaguar. But Pischetsrieder says he is not worried. He said the 3 series withstood competition from the Mercedes 190 after the first 'Baby Benz' was launched in 1982.
'Whether it's Lexus or Jaguar coming in, we have to compete with them.'