Crossovers and SUVs are now firmly in the mainstream and BMW is no exception, with the equivalent bodystyles accounting for nearly 60% of its total sales in 2019. The German automaker is not about to neglect the design direction for its sedans, however, BMW head of design Domagoj Dukec told Autoblog.

BMW market research identified two main aesthetic trends, ‘casual’ and ‘elegant’, noted Dukec, drawing a parallel between car design and a building’s interior design. The ‘casual’ design in reference to a living space corresponds to a loft-like layout where there is less of a clear separation between areas such as the kitchen and living room.

The loft-style design is also where items such as the owner’s bicycle, for example, can be seen within the hallway rather than parked with other vehicles in a garage or parking space. Conversely, the ‘elegant’ design trend refers to houses where the kitchen, bedrooms and living areas are more clearly demarcated, and those who prefer this aesthetic in a house are more likely to prefer sedans, said Dukec.

Though SUVs like the X3 make up the majority of sales, BMW will continue to evolve the sedan bodystyle, possibly with a 2.5-box shape in the vein of the Gran Coupé.

Though the buyer trend towards SUVs has largely been attributed to North America, the parallels drawn to preferences in residences are more extreme examples as not all Americans live in lofts, and SUVs already comprise a significant proportion of vehicles sold in China, despite Dukec pointing out that the open concept, American-style kitchen remains unpopular in China, to use the house-vehicle design parallel again.

This observation could explain how BMW, among other makes, justify producing specific models for China, aside from the sheer size of the Chinese market that makes economic sense for it to happen. This also means that BMW’s sedans will continue to make up a significant proportion of the brand’s line-up for the foreseeable future, with a twist.

“The 40:60 or 50:50 sedan-to-SUV split will remain, so yes, sedans will stay relevant. There also has to be a certain modernisation or evolution of the bodystyle,” said Dukec. “It can’t just be the classic three-box design. We see that in China, they’re asking for more elegance, maybe something like a two-and-a-half-box (shape). This is something we are looking at,” he said. More Gran Coupé shapes from BMW in the future?

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