A four wheel-drive model blitz is under way at BMW as the company attempts to catch up on the quattro success achieved by arch-rival Audi in the UK market.
Four additional xDrive cars are in the pipeline for release in the next few months as the German premium brand attempts to cash in on the popularity of go-anywhere mobility, Fleet News can reveal.
The option is being lined up for two new 4 Series models – the Gran Coupe and convertible – the 6 Series and the 2 Series Active Tourer, the first BMW front-wheel drive vehicle being launched at the Geneva Motor Show next week.
Currently, BMW has four SUV models in its line-up and offers all-drive traction in the 3 Series and 1 Series.
But officials are mindful of the fact that an extensive range of quattro versions helped Audi overtake BMW in Britain for the first time last year with 142,000 registrations achieving a 6.27% market share compared with 135,500 sales and 6.24%.
"Audi has offered four-wheel drive models for a long time and we have been late to the party, but we are delighted that the 3 Series xDrive saloon and Touring outsold the A4 quattro range when they were launched last year," said company whole life cost operations manager Lee Connolly.
"Things have changed dramatically since the snow storms started making life so difficult three years ago. The weather shifted the general public attitude to four wheel drive and we now have the confidence to move forward with more models.
"An increasing number of fleet operators who used to shy away from all-drive options now seem ready to include vehicles equipped with 4WD in basic specification on their lists as technology advances have cut the fuel efficiency penalty of all-round traction. Price reduction is also a big factor – the advantages of 4WD now equate to the cost of satellite navigation."