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BMW takes over Alpina tuning house as electric cars pull the plug on power upgrades

The shift to electric cars is squeezing old-school engine performance tuning houses out of the market.


German car giant BMW has bought out custom tuning house Alpina, after more than half a century of independent brand cooperation.

Alpina was founded in 1965, and has been modifying BMW cars for improved engine and handling performance since its inception.

However, the contemporary shift to electric powertrains in the automotive industry is – according to both companies – set to negate the viability of low-volume independent tuning houses over the next decade.

“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, on the BMW Board of Management.

“We recognised the challenges facing the automotive industry early on and are now setting the right course for [us] ... This marks the beginning of a new chapter," added Alpina's managing director, Andreas Bovensiepen.

"We made a conscious decision not to sell Alpina to just any manufacturer, because BMW and Alpina have worked together and trusted one another for decades ... That is why it is the right decision strategically for the Alpina brand to be managed by the BMW Group in the future.”

Alpina badging may become a second BMW performance sub-brand, in addition to its current BMW M division – similar to Mercedes' AMG arm, which was itself an independent tuning house until 1999, when Daimler acquired a controlling share.

It remains to be seen how Alpina would differentiate itself to BMW M internally, as the two tuning divisions have typically offered vehicles in similar segments with similar engines and performance – though Alpina cars have typically gravitated towards everyday comfort, compared to the racetrack capability engineered into M cars.

The BMW-Alpina takeover will not come into effect until 31 December 2025, and is awaiting approval from German competition and anti-trust regulators.

It is likely the deal will result in the closure of Alpina's existing Buchloe factory, however BMW says it will offer laid-off workers a new position within the business.

Alpina has previously resisted the shift to electric vehicles, with Bovensiepen telling German media last year: "We have customers especially in Europe who drive 30,000 to 50,000 kilometers a year. [Nine months] ago we carried out a customer survey on the subject of hybrids and BEVs (battery-electric vehicles).

"Our customers currently feel no demand for battery-electric models. This is also due to the high mileage: Alpina customers, especially in Germany, want to drive fast and accelerate hard – then, of course, range is still an issue. Our customers usually use their BMW Alpina as their first vehicle, as a 'daily dream car'."

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William Davis

William Davis has written for Drive since July 2020, covering news and current affairs in the automotive industry. He has maintained a primary focus on industry trends, autonomous technology, electric vehicle regulations, and local environmental policy. As the newest addition to the Drive team, William was brought onboard for his attention to detail, writing skills, and strong work ethic. Despite writing for a diverse range of outlets – including the Australian Financial Review, Robb Report, and Property Observer – since completing his media degree at Macquarie University, William has always had a passion for cars.

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