BMW has bought the tuning company Alpina after almost 60 years of collaboration between the two Bavarian firms.
Despite being involved with BMW since the 1960s and manufacturing cars based on BMW products since the 1970s, Alpina has until now been a separate entity, building cars which act as a sort of halfway point between standard BMW and MINI models and those more hardcore cars from the company's M Division.
The deal between the two companies will, according to BMW "bring greater diversity to its own luxury car range," possibly hinting at the future prospect of seeing Alpina-branded models in BMW showrooms.
Little is due to change between BMW and Alpina in the short term with the smaller firm continuing to cosmetically and mechanically modify pre-assembled models from BMW's production lines at its own facility at Buchloe near Munich until the expiry at the end of 2025 of an existing agreement between the two companies.
With a diversifying product line-up, increased electrification by BMW as well as myriad regulatory hurdles in the area of emissions, software and driver assistance, the acquisition will also avoid a relatively small company such as Alpina having to make unfeasible investments to keep up with the pace of change.
"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," said Pieter Nota, a member of BMW's Board of Management.
"For over fifty years," he said, "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."
Potential job losses
While the service, parts and accessories side of the business will continue as is in the long term, the cessation of production in 2025 will "have implications for existing jobs at the Buchloe site". Alpina currently employs around 300 people and BMW has said that it will offer those set to lose their jobs in 2025 other positions within the BMW Group and with the company's suppliers and development partners.
According to Florian Bovensiepen, a co-manager at the family firm and son of Alpina's founder Burkard 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."
Neither party has disclosed any financial details of the deal which is still pending regulatory approval, and BMW has said that it will not take any shares in Alpina. 2021 was Alpina's most successful year to date with 2,000 cars sold globally.