BMW To Focus On Electric Variants Of Current Vehicles, Next i Car Pushed Back To 2021

3 months ago by Steven Loveday 19

BMW i8

BMW i8 Frozen Yellow Edition

Of all the wonders that presented themselves at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, BMW didn’t have its hand in any of them. The company has slowed its innovation push, and decided to focus its energy on updating and electrifying its current lineup. This may not be a negative …

CEO Harald Krüger believes in making more of what his customers already like, and making the products better. This means, at least for now, it’s no surprise to see a wagon version of the 5-Series, or a minimally adapted 4-Series, at an international auto show, while competitors are pushing new models.

“We’re transforming BMW from a carmaker into a tech company and a mobility-service provider. During this transformation, there’s one constant factor: a rigorous focus on what helps our customers and what they desire.”

BMW i3

BMW i3

The news can be seen in a positive light, if we look at the fact that BMW does plan to electrify, and according to Krüger, BMW’s offerings will be monumental. He shared:

“BMW is large enough to master the investment demands for future technologies and keep profitability up.”

“In future, we’re betting on maximum flexibility and scalability so as to bring electric mobility to a new and unprecedented level.”

Krüger believes that the electric car race is more comparable to a long marathon, than a sprint. He insists that the company needs to continue doing what it does best, and remain profitable, while continuing to work toward the future.

Looking at the other side of the coin, competitors like Mercedes and Volkswagen are moving forward. Mercedes has plans for at least ten electric models in the near future, and VW promises the I.D. family of around thirty EVs, in about the same time frame. Harald Hendrikse, a Morgan Stanley analyst out of London, said:

“The danger is that these new vehicles like Mercedes’ EQ and Volkswagen’s I.D. are a huge success, leaving BMW wrong-footed. The push for electric cars does feel more real this time.”

However, EVs make up less than one percent of the current worldwide automotive market share. IHS Automotive believes that that number could rise as high as eight percent, by 2025. Meanwhile, it is not likely that people will cease to buy BMW’s vehicles. While Krüger is not moving as quickly as his predecessors at BMW, he has set plans moving in the right direction. BMW hopes to release more “i” cars around 2021, and the company is already underway with an EV “boot camp” for about 14,000 of its managers.

Krüger himself will explain and educate his employees “en masse” about his upcoming strategies. He has built a huge temporary structure on the grounds of an old airport in Maisach, near Munich, where BMW runs a driving academy. Over the course of three months, Krüger will bring in large groups of managers to address electric drivetrains, and go into detail about connected cars and future software. BMW ran a similar camp in 2008, leading up to the production of the i3.

So, it seems that BMW is taking all the right steps, but is just not so concerned with the pace, and with brand new models. Though some people may be disappointed in having to wait, the automaker’s history and reputation should keep its customers along for the ride.

Hendrikse concluded:

“BMW’s decision to go for a gradual approach feels like the safer one in terms of investment outlay. There’s no evidence to suggest people need a special-looking electric car and won’t buy a 3-Series with a good battery range.”

We can think of just a few hundred thousand people who might find happiness in a long-range electric Model 3-Series …

Source: Bloomberg

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19 responses to "BMW To Focus On Electric Variants Of Current Vehicles, Next i Car Pushed Back To 2021"

  1. Get Real says:

    2021 huh.

    By that time Tesla will be selling hundreds of thousands of cars at the expense of BMW.

    1. CLIVE says:

      I guess they are trying to get real.

    2. Roy_H says:

      Elon has always compared Tesla cars with Mercedes-Benz and BMW models, never Japanese or American cars. Model S and X have taken more M-B customers than any other brand and M-B must be hurting. I think this is why M-B is on the fastest path to electrification of all other brands. I suspect BMW customers are more brand-loyal, but just maybe the Model 3 will prove me wrong.

  2. David Murray says:

    Meanwhile, BMW didn’t even bother to show up at the Dallas Auto Show for two years in a row. I mean, they must be following Tesla’s lead, I guess.

    That being said. I think electrifying existing models is the way to go for now. While a ground-up EV is always a better product, I’m not sure it is always the most profitable thing to do unless you can expect significant sales from that vehicle.

  3. Stimpy says:

    Sure, I’ve owned 3 Series in the past and would consider an electric variant…

    …But only if it has comparable
    Range
    Charging network
    Price
    OTA update ability
    Interior spaciousness

    as the Model 3. I’m simply not interested in an inferior car.

  4. Anderlan says:

    I read this and I still don’t know what they’re going to do other than nothing. I was kind of hoping the headline meant they were going to PHEV-ify their whole line up. Come on, BMW, and everybody, just PHEV-ify all your SUVs. You’ll gain knowledge, cell volumes will grow, kwhr prices will shrink, then you can move everything to full EV piecemeal.

  5. MTN Ranger says:

    I hope BMW doesn’t slide into EV mediocrity like Nissan.

  6. Gerwasius says:

    Is it really so hard to understand that iNEXT project was always scheduled for 2021.
    Fully autonomous vehicle as big as regular 5 series with possible i7 moniker.
    As a BEV or PHEV (fuel cell).

    On the other side i5/i6 was a 2019 project. Seen as testing platform for F-CLAR platform and further electrification of the core brand. Directly for electrification of 3 series and X3 model. As planned in generation 2025/26.

    But rapid progress of vehicle electrification and high numbers related to Tesla model 3. And significant in-house progress with technology and adaptation propelled decision to start core brand electrification as soon as possible.
    As we now know with next X3 and 3 series in 2019.

  7. Another (Euro) industrial point of view says:

    Self driving could be a technological train hard to catch but EV’s in themselves are certainly not. From there it is really up to each car maker to take its own sweet time and jump on the EV train when they chose. That is when EV components are cheap enough to make profits selling EVs. Should they push forward and start to make their own li-ion cells etc.. I do not think it is a good idea. The Tesla experiment will show who is right but for the time being the jury is still out.

  8. DJ says:

    So no i5 until 2021? That seems like kind of a mistake but whatever.

  9. Sean Wagner says:

    My bet is on the Mini E [or whatever it will be called] to rouse them from their stupor, if the Tesla Model 3 doesn’t deliver a sufficient shock to the BMW system.

    The Mini is an ideal urban zipabout, with panache and a well established dealer network, not to mention a price that can partially absorb the lack of serious investments.

    The Kreisel brothers should be available to solve any packaging problems.

    We will see. Over to you, BMW.

  10. unlucky says:

    There’s no evidence people need a special-looking car.

    Yeah, well maybe the problem is your car is far too special-looking. You made the outside bizarre and made the inside look low-rent on purpose (according to BMW reps who spoke at a local event near intro) because research said something akin to: “younger car buyers of this sort of car wanted to feel like they weren’t taking away from the Earth to pamper themselves”.

    You made a BMW that doesn’t look like a BMW. It doesn’t drive like a BMW. And inside it doesn’t feel like you are in a BMW.

    That, to me, is the bigger problem more than having specific EV models.

    Of course, BMW is just looking for an excuse to make more ICE cars with vestigial plugs. That’s the “problem behind the problem” perhaps.

  11. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    The EU has strong forthcoming regulations for carbon emissions from cars, regulations which go into effect in 2020. How does it make any sense for BMW to put off until 2021 any new plug-in EV models?

    In theory, with PEVs (Plug-in EVs) currently being only 1-2% of the market, it seems to be defensible from a purely utilitarian business perspective to only work on PHEV and BEV development internally, without spending all the money necessary to actually put more PEVs into production. But historically, BMW seems to be putting itself on the same path that Blackberry took when Apple started marketing the iPhone. That is, they seem to be ignoring the competition or at best making only a half-hearted effort to compete.

    Time will tell whether BMW’s decision to put off wading further into PEV development was prudent, or if it will put them several lengths back and struggling to catch up in a race to capture a good share of an emerging PEV market.

  12. Kim Jorgensen says:

    I had a strong feeling they would keep delaying the next i model. Maybe not even done yet? In the mean time, IMHO, nearly all their existing model line-up looks dated. Or is it only me? The 1 is terrible, 2 is nice in some versions, 3/4 dated since inception, new 5 too similar to the existing but nice, 6 very dated, 7 just plain vanilla. Z4 out of production. All the X’s are just not my cup of tea. Thank goodness beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, otherwise BMW would be up the creek without a paddle. Look at the new 2018 E-class convertible, that is nice.

  13. bogdan says:

    It’s because of the CCA – Clean Coal Act – that was signed by Trump yesterday.
    BMW is just adjusting the plan.
    We won’t need EVs very soon….

  14. Pat75014 says:

    They are right in terms of formfactors that people want vs iGadgets no real BMW customer wants to purchase as his main car replacement. Problem is to build All-Electric capable drive trains for them rapidly. So far the Porsche iHybrid “Electric Turbo” PHEV approach all Germans followed – including BMW – was a dead end with no decent all electric mode, due to far too small 10KWH battery and 100KW Motors offered. While the time window for Hybrids has almost gone now Tesla covered all Europe with Superchargers soon to be up-dated to 3X to 5X faster v3 models. No room for PHEVs left in the future. In my BMW 530DA customer soon to move to Tesla Model X 100D, view at least.

  15. Rayford says:

    BMW strategy makes sense. EV’s are less than 1 % of the market today, and EV/PHEV/HEV are less than 3% of the market. Even if EV are 8% of the market and PHEV/HEV are an additional 12% of the market by 2025 (a lot of “if”0, then the 80% of the market that is traditional is still huge, with growth in Asia and the Americas driving ICE growth. So a PHEV and large vehicle strategy makes sense, with both the premium segment and SUV/crossover segments growing at about 7 to 10% each year, with overall vehicle sales growing at 4%. I’d call this a safe bet to both volume, revenue, and profit. In addition, the focus on the potential of car sharing and ride sharing, where the service is the revenue stream and not the vehicle itself….until the customer needs to buy a vehicle (moves from urban to rurual, marries and has 2.5 children, etc)….that will be a huge market to assure they are positioned to gain market share.

  16. H Mandell says:

    BMW has completely relinquished its lead in e-vehicles since the launch of the i3. No new all electric until possibly 2021. Still selling cars with 110 miles of all electric range with even Chevy in the market with twice that. The electrification of the existing lines provide minimal electric utility, at a near $10,000 premium. Seriously, 15 miles on all electric? That strategy is an ICE mpg move, which is does not address those who want all electric. In fact I think BMW has lost it’s edge altogether. The range is now an also ran in performance sport vehicles. The deconstruction of the 3 series is almost criminal. I’m on the list for a Tesla 3 and after several BMW’s I am done, even when its time to replace my other care with its ICE.

  17. Jason says:

    Just another legacy manufacturer plodding along with their legacy ideas. Talk to MB and VW, but neither have actually produced anything. At least BMW has the i3 & i8.
    None of the BEV’s have sold in any serious numbers, including Tesla, so exciting product updates is unrealistic. 7-10 year product runs for BEV will be normal until they start to sell in big numbers. Even the mighty Tesla MS has only had minor face lift in all that time.

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