Designing high-end niche vehicles is a compromise, said Hans Rathgeber, who is responsible for the development of the 3 series and niche vehicles at BMW.
'When you decide to make a super-roadster such as the Z8, you have to start with the aim of making it the best car in its class,' said Rathgeber.
That's difficult to achieve, he said, because development resources are often limited on low-volume vehicles.
'At the moment we regard the Z8 as a standalone product,' said BMW AG board member Wolfgang Ziebart.
The Z8 competes with other luxury sports cars such as the Aston Martin DB7 Volante and Mercedes-Benz SL500. The team that put together the Z8 'was a little bit leaner than is usual at BMW,' said Rathgeber.
A small, dedicated team alone cannot offer the complete range of skills necessary for the development of a car such as the Z8, he said.
BMW's solution was to use a project team approach with dedicated staff working in a variety of important functional areas.
BMW used outside engineering resources for the Z8 project but did not outsource significant responsibility for program management.
The Z8's aluminum body panels and the spaceframe chassis are assembled at BMW's plant in Dingolfing, Germany. The parts are then transported to Munich, where full assembly takes place. BMW is turning out about nine cars a day. Maximum capacity is 2,000 units a year.