BMW M boss Frank van Meel is leaving the division after four years in the role, with head of 8 Series development Markus Flasch stepping up to take charge of the company’s performance arm.
Van Meel, who joined BMW from Audi Quattro before it was rebranded as Audi Sport, will lead the firm’s 'Total Vehicle Development' unit from 1 October.
He was responsible for the performance brand’s adoption of all-wheel drive, overseeing the development of the variable four-wheel-drive system seen in the latest M5. Van Meel also championed a new model hierarchy, with Competition, CS and CSL versions sitting above base-level M cars. To date, that has included the M2 and M5 Competition, and M3 and M4 CS.
Van Meel’s legacy will include the forthcoming X3 M and X4M SUVs, the M8 Gran Coupé, and the M3 version of the upcoming 3 Series saloon, which has been spotted testing ahead of an expected 2020 launch. It is expected to remain rear-drive only, and will use a combination of aluminium and carbonfibre components in the pursuit of low weight.
With van Meel staying within the BMW group, the M roadmap he established is likely to remain in place under the new leadership. Flasch was chief engineer on the new 8 Series, and was previously responsible for quality management of luxury models across the entire BMW group.