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Common Tread

BMW's pickup carrying a GS has it all wrong

Jul 11, 2019

BMW’s been showing off an X7-based pickup hauling an F 850 GS in the bed.

The one-off X7 was built for BMW’s Motorrad Days, a celebration of all things Beemer. (In case you ever need to know: Bimmers are BMW cars, Beemers/Beamers are BMW motorcycles.) 

I’m not going to spend much time on that X7-ute. Lemmy’s already written about what motorcyclists really need from a truck, and this ain’t it. I think it looks like an expensive Ridgeline. Fellow Zillan Adam thinks it looks like a crossover with a back porch. Hey man, don’t scuff the teak! 

BMW X7 truck
Not sure the world needed an X7 truck, and I am very sure the bed of such a truck would never have a GS in it. The "vocational trainees" who built the thing did a nice job though, considering what they had to work with. It's a concept, after all. BMW photo.

Far more interesting to me: BMW’s current situation, which is just the opposite of the lead photo. Motorcycles are actually carrying BMW’s automotive division right now, as Motorrad is the only profitable part of the brand besides financing. In fact, 2018 was BMW Motorrad’s best year of all time, with 165,566 motorcycles sold. (13,842 of those were sold in the United States.) 2018 also marked Motorrad’s eighth straight year of sales growth, and they’re planning on selling 200,000 bikes annually by 2020. Things are good in BMW’s two-wheeled division.

Things are not so good elsewhere in the company. Just this week, BMW CEO Harald Krueger stepped down after losing BMW’s luxury market lead and failing to advance their EV program. Krueger took a conservative approach to BMW’s strategy during his tenure as the market for upscale EVs remained uncertain, so BMW spent the last few years refining plug-in hybrids. That uncertainty changed with the rise of Tesla. Luxury EVs became a hot market, and as a result, BMW’s early lead with the i3 electric car was quickly lost to other competitors. Their only electric motorcycle, the C evolution, is a five-year-old design at this point, but Motorrad isn’t suffering for it.

BMW C evolution
The C evolution is BMW's only electric motorcycle offering at this time. BMW photo.

Maybe the odd-bike-out C evolution is a hint at why Motorrad is doing well while the automotive side is in the red. Today, motorcycles aren’t under the same pressure as cars are to go electric. And that transition isn’t always easy. Instead of fretting over EVs and hybrids, BMW Motorrad has continually developed their popular conventional motorcycles (the S series, the R nineT line, and the GS bikes like the one in the truck bed, for example). The bikes continue to sell well. Like the i3, the C evolution is an aged electric design, but the consequences of not updating are far less in the motorcycling space. So far, that is. And that’s not to say that BMW is completely neglecting electric motorcycles. They recently showed the Vision concept: a bike so radical it prompted Lance to question what EVs should look like. Though I think we’d see a hulking X7-based luxury truck long before a funky e-boxer motorcycle.

So there you have it: a four-wheeled vehicle carrying a two-wheeled one, when in reality, it’s the bikes carrying the cars in Bavaria. You don’t see that every day. No word yet on Krueger’s replacement, though it’s expected the newcomer will have a far more aggressive plan for EVs. Once a new CEO is in place, I don’t think the C evolution will be alone (or with us) for much longer.