ADRO wants to make a full-size luxury car, too.
- ADRO has come out with a replacement grille for the “controversial” stock grille on the current BMW M3/M4, with a lower profile.
- But ADRO has bigger plans, including becoming a carmaker.
- The idea is to get a “skateboard” EV platform from an existing OEM and add its own body on top. Look for a car in the next three to five years.
Just like the weather, everybody complains about the front end of the BMW M3 and M4. But no one does anything about it. Well, someone finally did something about it.
A company called ADRO (Aerodynamic Development Race Optimization), with design offices in Southern California and production in South Korea, made not only a front clip for the Bimmer’s offending schnozz, but an entire body kit: nose, side skirts, rear valence and goose-neck rear wing.
It wasn’t easy.
“A lot of companies tried to change the front, and during the process they realized that the making of this bumper is a huge investment because it’s a plastic-mold-injection bumper, and they would have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to make it,” said ADRO Chief Designer Davis Yongwon Lee. “But we thought it was worth the investment. Not only in terms of sales, but in terms of making a statement.”
Here is ADRO’s fix for the BMW grille.
So ADRO invested “a lot of money” into making the body kit. The reason it costs so much was integrating the six sensors in the BMW bumper, including radar and camera units that are all fixed into place as hard points.
“Which leaves very little room to design,” Lee said. “Designing something is super easy, but taking it to reality and making it functional is another subject, and we had to go through all of that to actually make it feasible, which was a very time-consuming project. But I’m happy with how it turned out and how it worked.”
The 2023 BMW M4 CSL, as it comes from the factory.
The team took the bumper off the BMW and 3D-scanned it and the car to try and get the holes to all line up correctly.
“You can never get it 100% correct, so you had to measure all the holes to guesstimate,” Lee said. “You will always have two or three millimeters of tolerances… No cars are alike because of the tolerances, so we had to guess where all these holes were, which was very time-consuming.”
The body kit includes side skirts, rear valence, and a wing.
The resulting $3500 product came out spot-on, Lee said, with everything lining up, and the parts are made of the same TPO polyethylene used by BMW. Lee said he doesn’t know how the new bumper might affect the car’s warranty, but that you can easily screw the original back on if necessary. The other parts are carbon fiber and easier to fit: the side skirt, rear diffuser, and spoiler.
It’s all pretty nice but, as Lee said, one of the goals was to “make a statement” because this isn’t just a body kit company. Sure, they also make body kits for Hyundais, Kias, Genesis, and Teslas, as well as cool parts for the C8 Chevy Corvette, Ford Mustang and the Toyota GR86, but they have an even bigger goal.
“Our goal is to become a car company. That’s the reason why I came here,” Lee said. To date, his career has spanned the design departments of Rivian, Hyundai, and Mercedes-Benz, the latter where he penned the magnificent Mercedes-Maybach Vision 6.
If the coming car is anything like the Vision 6, billionaires and potentates across the globe will echo the words, “Sign me up!”
It’s even feasible. ADRO wants to take a “skateboard” EV platform from an OEM and build its own body on top of it—even customizable bodies.
“All the smartphones right now look the same,” Lee said. “So there’s a huge market for phone covers. Everybody puts a phone cover on their phone. And I think that’s the key with ADRO. You don’t want to do mass production, you don’t want to do the same-looking 200,000 Model 3s. We want to do highly customizable cars that look different.”
Davis Lee’s sketches for what became the Mercedes-Maybach Vision 6.
ADRO has approached OEMs with this idea and says the reception has been good. They’d take that platform and build cars under the new small-volume manufacturer law that allows up to 325 cars a year.
“We are looking at maybe three to five years for the car to come out.”
That’s a reasonable length of time, once they line up funding, which they expect to do in the next year once a certain, unspecified “milestone” is met. After that, look for something spectacular, we hope.
Mark Vaughn Mark Vaughn grew up in a Ford family and spent many hours holding a trouble light over a straight-six miraculously fed by a single-barrel carburetor while his father cursed Ford, all its products and everyone who ever worked there.
Keyword: An Aftermarket Company Finally Addresses the BMW Grille Problem