Alpina, Germany’s Coolest Car Tuner, Might Not Be Long For This World

If a BMW is ‘the ultimate driving machine’, then an Alpina is the ultimate ultimate driving machine. The esteemed German tuning house, which specialises in BMWs, is widely regarded as making some of the best performance and luxury cars on the planet.

Calling Alpina a ‘tuner’ is selling the firm a bit short, actually. Alpina is deeply integrated into BMW’s operations: their vehicles are assembled on the same production lines as normal BMWs before being sent to Alpina’s factory in Buchloe, Bavaria for finishing touches. Alpina is actually recognised by the German government as a car manufacturer in its own right and therefore it issues its own VINs.

Alpina likes to do things a little differently to BMW and its M division, too. Compared to ‘M cars’, Alpinas put more emphasis on luxury, higher torque, and often come to different conclusions about how to achieve power gains. All Alpina models are turbocharged (not all M cars are), and Alpina likes to install its own manumatic transmissions.

In short, they’re a bit special; a bit idiosyncratic. They’re a bit of an ‘if you know you know’, real enthusiast car brand – the epitome of cool for people who are really into their cars. But those people are set for a bit of a rude shock.

Earlier this month, Alpina announced that they’ve been bought by the BMW Group and that the production of Alpina vehicles at their Buchloe site will wrap up in 2025. The two firms “will continue to cooperate closely in the future, but in a new form and inter alia, with a focus on engineering and development services,” their press release elaborates, and “the spare parts supply and the service offering for BMW ALPINA automobiles of all ages is guaranteed in the long term.”

Watch how a hand-crafted Alpina steering wheel is made above.

You can read the press release in full here. The phrasing of the release implies that Bovensiepen (Alpina’s new name) will simply be responsible for legacy servicing and will instead work more as a design/engineering bureau for BMW rather than a tuner/manufacturer.

“In the coming years, we will showcase new, exciting, dynamic and efficient automobiles. Our order books are as full as ever and several new products and product updates are imminent”, Alpina CEO Andreas Bovensiepen explains. “With our in-depth expertise and know-how, we will continue to bring different but impressive mobility offerings to the market… Our manufacturing activities will transform into engineering services over time.”

While it’s good to hear that Alpina hasn’t gone bust or anything – and that current Alpina owners will continue to be looked after – it’s not clear from the press release what BMW’s plans with Alpina are exactly.

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One potential future is we could see Alpina become a sort of trim level/specification for new BMWs, similar to BMW M. A similar thing has happened with other car companies: for example, AMG, which has long been associated with Mercedes-Benz, started off as an independent tuning firm before being bought out and absorbed into Mercedes.

The 2022 BMW Alpina B8 Gran Coupé. By way of comparison, the B8 makes 4 fewer kW than the BMW M8 Competition, but 50 more Nm of torque. Image: motor1.com

Alpina’s press release references how from 2026, BMW wants to introduce more luxury offerings in their range. Perhaps Alpina will become a luxury designation for BMW models, like how Maybach is for Mercedes?

All we know is we’ll be very sad to see Alpina disappear entirely. We hope BMW keeps the Alpina vision alive; to continue to make incredibly luxurious, incredibly fast and somewhat understated versions of their already impressive cars.

We also hope this doesn’t make Alpina prices on the used market even crazier than they already are (but that’s probably some wishful thinking). It would be great to be able to own a B12 5.7 someday…

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