BMW X3: What’s Up With The Cupholders?

August 9, 2010

When I was Internet Manager for a major car dealer, I was amazed at the number of buyers whose first question about the biggest and best model that just arrived on the showroom floor was how many cupholders it had. They weren’t concerned with advances in safety or design, horsepower or gas mileage, or even if it had the latest convenience features like a USBconnection for their iPod. Instead, top-most on their mind was the morning commute or next family outing, and if everyone would have a place to stash their over-sized Starbucks or McDonalds cups.

X3 Deficiencies
BMWs are German engineered motor cars with an outstanding reputation for excellence. BMW engineers focus on the cutting edge of European engineering, technological, and luxury advancements. Yet most Europeans would never consider placing an extra large Big Gulp on the dash of their luxury car as they merge onto the Autobahn. Silly Europeans: they incorporated this cultural idiosyncrasy into the design of the BMW X3. The result was--for the American automobile market--too few and poorly designed cupholders that did not meet the expectations of the U.S. buyer.

BMW obviously has so many other benefits going for it that an inadequately designed cupholder system did not stop Americans from buying the X3. Sales of the X3 have increased over the last year. In fact, over the last couple years, BMW sales in the U.S. have overtaken German sales, effectively waking up BMW executives to the burgeoning potential here.

Willing to Change
Along with increased awareness of the U.S. market, there is a new found willingness on BMW’s part to adapt classical German design for U.S. practicality. The result is a redesigned BMW X3 that includes American-style cupholders. 

According to Automotive News Europe, BMW’s U.S. subsidiary has been pushing the home office for better cupholders for almost twenty years. When the X3 was introduced to the U.S. market in 2003, it included ineffective cupholder placements in the door panels and little else. All that is changing with the next generation X3. Expect a redesign that includes a larger body style, more technological advancements, and of course, even more well-placed cupholders.

A Longer Wait
According to, the U.S. launch of the redesigned X3 has been delayed. After calling around to a few BMW dealers in the San Francisco Bay Area, it seems we may be able to see the first 2011 BMW X3s hitting the showroom floors just after the new year in January 2011.

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