The Man Responsible for the Latest M5 Is Leaving BMW M

Van Meel, head of M since 2015, is taking on a new role at BMW. Current 8-Series lead engineer Markus Flasch will step up to run BMW's performance-car division.

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BMW

Frank van Meel, the current head of BMW M, is moving on. Effective October 1st, van Meel will take on a new role as the head of the BMW's "Total Vehicle" development department, while Markus Flasch will head up BMW M.

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Frank van Meel
BMW

Van Meel was lured away from Audi's Quattro GmbH (now Audi Sport) to lead M. Under his watch, M embraced all-wheel drive in a big way, developing a new, fully variable system for the M5. The new M5 also became the first M car since the E36 M3 of the 1990s to use a torque-converter automatic transmission, breaking with previous use of single-clutch sequentials and dual-clutch gearboxes.

During his time at M, van Meel also developed a new product hierarchy. Beyond the base-level M car, van Meel's strategy calls for three models that ramp up the intensity—Competition, CS, and CSL. Based on this, BMW has brought out Competition versions of the M2 and M5, and CS version of the M3/M4.

There are a lot of products developed under van Meel's watch we haven't yet seen in production form. That includes the recently announced X3 and X4 M and the M8. With a new 3-Series on its way, too, we assume van Meel is hard at work creating a new M3.

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Markus Flasch
Robert Niederl

We met new M boss Flasch a few months ago when we got the chance to drive an M850i prototype. He was in charge of the development of the new 8-Series, and he worked hard to make sure it was truly fun to drive. Our impressions of the prototype indicate he did a good job.

Van Meel's tenure at M might have been relatively short, but we think his decisions will have a lasting impact. And, we can't wait to see what Flasch cooks up.

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