LAKE COMO, Italy — The auto industry's hectic merger and takeover fever in recent months seems to confirm the conventional wisdom that volume — generally seen to be around 4 million-plus cars a year — is essential to survival. BMW AG, for one, disagrees. In a blistering attack on the perception that volume is a prerequisite to staying alive as an independent, Wolfgang Ziebart, BMW AG's new research and development chief, says: “A niche manufacturer represented worldwide has a more stable ...

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