BMW Exec Talks All Things Electric | Outlines New Strategies


Head of the BMW i sub-brand speaks about how the automaker is shifting its electrification strategy.

Christiaan Hetzner from Automotive News Europe had the opportunity to sit down with BMW i chief Robert Irlinger. The automaker has already made it clear that it will push forward with electrification ahead of rivals. In fact, it already has, as the BMW i3 has been available for years. In addition, outside of the i sub-brand, BMW offers several plug-in hybrids. While sales haven’t been incredible, the automaker sells more electric vehicles than a majority of other rivals.

Hetzner wonders how many of BMW Group’s 12 upcoming battery-electric vehicles will “wear the BMW badge.” Irlinger isn’t completely forthcoming, but says that of the five announced thus far, four are Bimmers and one is a Mini. The automaker has yet to announce the other seven models. He explains that BMW will work to meet the needs and wants of consumers with each of its new releases.

Irlinger says that BMW needs to provide electric cars in all segments in order to appeal to buyers. As the company plans its electrification efforts and readies the architecture, it’s also securing rights to the names for these upcoming vehicles. Interestingly, however, he says that BMW has announced the five EVs, and doesn’t have to make decisions about what happens after 2025. Hmm … does this mean that there will now only be five by 2025 and the remainder won’t come until after? It’s not made very clear in the interview.

We all know that the i3 hasn’t gained the success that some may have anticipated. Hetzner asks if there is a potential replacement in the works:

Hetzner: The i3 has struggled to live up to expectations. Will there be a replacement for the i3, or will it be repositioned as an i1 without the expensive, carbon fiber bodyshell?

Irlinger: I will let you speculate on that. What I can say, though, is that we had a learning process. We started with a range of 130 km to 160 km in everyday conditions [with the original 60-amp-hour cell i3]. We thought that was enough since we positioned the car for urban mobility. But the customer had a mindset that more range would be better, so we decided it was necessary to bring a second battery update relatively quickly.

Based on the history of the i3, BMW has only provided two battery updates in five years. Irlinger reiterates that customers are looking for more range. However, in regards to battery updates, he says that if a vehicle like the iNext comes to market with enough range to suit customers’ needs, there may not be reason to provide an update. However, if buyers still want more, then BMW will bring it to market.

Irlinger went on to say that significantly fewer buyers in Europe are opting for the i3 with the range extender, due to the larger battery. For this reason, BMW will be phasing out the REx option in certain areas. In contrast, it will still offer it in the U.S. and other markets where consumers continue to buy it due to a lack of charging infrastructure.

Finally, Hetzner inquires about how BMW will remain a leader in the electric car segment with the emergence of more competition from Audi, Jaguar, and Mercedes. Irlinger assures that he has no concerns for the coming year, but BMW could fall behind temporarily after that. He explains:

For 2019 I am not worried. Our competitors would have to build 40,000 next year, and I would be surprised if they did that, given the high price tags on those vehicles. It may be the case that the competitors overtake us the following year when they are at full production, but then we are coming with iX3 in 2020 as well as both the iNext and the i4 the year after that.

To read the full interview, follow the link below. Then, share your thoughts with us in the comment section.

Source: Automotive News

Categories: BMW

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48 Comments on "BMW Exec Talks All Things Electric | Outlines New Strategies"

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Holy crap – BMW’s plans for 2019 is to do nothing?

They’re aware that sales are already plummeting, right? This is not a time to act like you’re at the top and can just coast. Time is not on BMW’s side in this – they’re looking at bankruptcy before they reach the end of 2021.

The sales of the i3 are significantly up year over year, globally. Production is increasing 50% this month at the Leipzig plant. Just because you look only at US sales doesn’t mean they care.

He thinks the U.S. is the world.

And even then, even if i3 sales are plummeting BMW US sales overall are higher YOY than last year.

BMW Group, 12.10.2018 Press Release:

“Sales in the year to date total BMW Group electrified 97.543 (+42.0%), once again confirming the BMW Group’s position as a leading global provider of premium electrified mobility.”

Sales in first three quarters of 2018:
BMW Group electrified: 97.543 units
Tesla: +- 154.220 units
BMW Group: 1,834,810 units

BMW Group electrified: BMW i, BMW iPerformance and MINI Electric vehicles.

i don’t think they are selling less cars, I think it’s the opposite.
And the i3 is far from not selling well. It’s a car priced like the model 3 (or not far) with half the battery and much smaller. It’s true that they use some exotic materials but battery size must be a lot more expensive today. For me it’s just amazing how many i3s BMW can sell.
i believe while Tesla makes a tiny profit from model 3 and have to sell thousands of them, BMW is making a good profit with a much smaller number of units.


I initially found the i3 fugly, but it has grown on me because it is a fine car. It drives well, and except for the cramped back seats, is a pretty good all around vehicle.

– Just too expensive for what you get. Buy a Model 3 for that kind of money.
– Battery continues to be too small.
– Weird sized tires are a concern for the long term.
– Tech system / package is lame compared to a base Tesla.

All that said, the price on the used market is decent. if we didn’t already have two BEVs I’d buy one on the aftermarket.

The new price is pretty easy to swallow (and nowhere near a model 3) after numerous options for discounts and tax incentives. This ends up being priced like a mid-range prius once all is said and done. I have one of these, in the 33 kwh battery only – the range has never once been an issue.

I don’t know where you’re shopping, but here in Canada (Vancouver, at least) the base price of a new i3 (MSRP) is $51,195 CAD. The cheapest no-option model 3 you can get today is $60,000 CAD. In both cases, pre-rebate.

I wouldn’t say a $9k difference is “nowhere near”. It’s quite near. Easy enough to stretch to $60k if you can afford the $51k, and honestly, I don’t expect *anyone* to stick with an i3 if they have access to a Tesla.

List prices are deceiving.
Some BMW dealers will get your a discount, and search for special discounts to get you into the car. Try

Those of us who prefer a light, compact, nimble hatchback that isn’t built with rust-prone materials would not consider buying any current Tesla car. If Tesla were to sell a light, compact, nimble hatchback, I’d be interested, but no such car seems to be in Tesla’s plans.

You guys don’t get the utility discounts up there? When I got my i3 earlier this year it came with a $10,000 discount for being a PG&E customer, which dropped my price tag quite significantly.

I’d stick with it to be honest, the model 3 doesn’t do it for me on the interior side.

Yeah I picked up a 2018 model in May. It came to a hair less than 40k before tax incentives (tech package, explicitly wanted standard seats). The range was never the issue that online talking heads made it out to be. 110-120 miles is good to get to work, back, and have plenty to go do something else or just not charge till next day. And the rex is always there just in case.

In the first three quarters of 2018, the BMW Group grew its worldwide sales by 1.3% (1,834,810 units).
And likely for huge profits.

They are far from going bankrupt.


Probably similar to Kodak before the bottom fell out, back in the day. And similar to Motorola when Nokia got ahead of them with digital modulation phones. And steamships when jet airplanes got reasonable. And sailing ships when steampower got efficient. Time is the only sin.

Possibly, but Kodak made almost all their profits on film. BMW don’t make much money on oil.

BMW gets most of its profits after the LEASE expires ,and the warranty is gone.

Profits from their car sales have dropped considerably. Profits from lease and rentals are up. They are squeezed between Tesla and others coming up, and none of their own products ready in sufficient numbers in the foreseeable future.

BMW have actually issued their 1st earnings warnings in years based on the money they are spending on R&D, billions on battery contracts & BEV production alone. They have announced a planned 50% increase in volume in pursuit of becoming #1 in China, they won’t do that without BEV (they have already doubled volume in this century on their expanded model range, have quadrupled it since the ’80’s, Magna are producing new Z4 because BMW have no capacity). BMW are the 1st manufacturer the Chinese have allowed to increase ownership in their domestic co-production. They are also aggressively pursuing autonomous vehicles & ride sharing.

“Ultimate Autonomous Driving RoboCar”?

That’s not even close to true.

`Will any I series be marketed as “Ultimate driving machines? “Ultimate driving one speed tranny BEV”? hummmm

So, you’ve proven you’ve never driven an i3.
Smooth power and torque application at any speed. It doesn’t need a transmission.
It’s an electric vehicle.

Or, we don’t understand your comment.

Technically the i3 has a single speed gear reduction transmission. It doesn’t shift, but it is a transmission.

Man you really gotta drive one of these things…. they are BMW through and through.

BMW thinks iX3 in 2020 will be competitive? They are in serious trouble. X3 already have an image as old ICE SUV, they should make iX2 instead of iX3.

Current model X3 is only 1 year old. The design is 100% more luxurious than a Tesla.
Combining traditional luxury with BEV maybe the key to a successful competition against tesla when priced comparably.

X5 is especially more luxurious. And comes with over the air updates.

Luxurious if you cannot smell the carcinogenic fumes when you fuel up and run on a cold engine. Luxurious if you ignore the little kids that die from asthma after you drive by (time lapse thought there, but very true). Hey but nice plush seats for your backside, huh? To each his own.

Where does the power necessary to build and push your 2500kg of Model X through town come from?
Right now we are in a transition and both, ICE and BEV do great harm to the environment including us humans. So don’t be so arrogant. Still the US is the worst polluter per capita on the planet.
We all need to walk more, use the bicycle, consume way less, stop using climate control all the time, stop wrapping everything in unnecessary plastic.

And yes, you jamcl3 are like we all as well a part of the problem.

We have Hydro in Ontario,and Nuclear some wind and solar ,have FIT in a lot of houses and nuclear and nat. gas . How do you walk or Bike 10 KMS or more in winter?

X5 is also especially ugly, not even mentioning X6 or X7 which are even worse. Both from the looks as from the comfort comparing to a stylish EV as the Model S or iPace. Luckily, in countries like the Netherlands you are not supposed to come to a customer anymore if you do not drive electric as an exec.

It’s a new day. The X5 has a noise producing gas engine, that vibrates, and shifts. Therefore, it loses to any electric, not just Tesla. Even the i3 beats it.

It’s 100% more luxurious than a Tesla? Amazing! What metric are you using for luxury? Are you measuring comfort? Convenience? Aesthetics? And what units are you measuring them in? And what device are you using to measure? Inquiring minds want to know!

Just read an article on the new 2019 MB S class, it is more luxurious than X3, it still feel old to me because of all the improvements based on old generation vesicle.
I had a few BMWs, just return my last lease this year. BMW luxury is overrated, I got bored after a couple of months.
I have a Tesla for over 3 years now, still love it like the first day I picked it up.

Those are the people who call Classical music boring anyway. They confuse class with being outdated and old.

Sorry, there is no X series that is more luxurious than any Electric.
Drive an electric and see.

Where does it have this image?

Sure, BMW as a whole has a bit of an “old person image”, but the X3 is no worse than any of it’s other cars. It’s also the second best selling vehicle in it’s segment (after the Q5) and YOY has over 100% sales increase (may be because it’s only a year old though).

A reasonably priced BEV with decent range will sell well.

BMW refurbished engine + transmission is about $13000. Tesla motor on ebay is $6200.
Battery at $200x 60 kwh = $12000 ( I am being generous here, I think).
So the electric conversion cost is roughly about $5000 more than ICE. (exhaust and cooling system on ICE vs TMS and regen system left out).

Therefore, if BEV X3 costs about $5000-$7000 more than ICE X3, I can understand. However, Kona EV costs $16000 more than Kona ICE.
Car manufacturers seem to try to take a big share of that $7500 federal credit. So they seem to add that amount to the price.
If BMW tries to sell X3 EV (250 mile range ) with $48000 for starting price, I would be interested.
But they will probably start at $57000 or higher.

Funny. 40k will be full production, probably for many years. Will be falling behind, you mean even more.
The two efforts the i8 and the i3 were clearly something to learn from, as in. Let’s not do that again.

That picture reminds me of Austin Powers stuck in the tunnel.

Gold member 😂

Going nowhere fast?

Didn’t they test an all electric 3 series prototype in summer? What happened to it? They could have made an e-golf type of thing to bridge the gap until the i4 arrives. With 200 miles range I would have gotten me a leaser. Oh well…

I have been living with a 2018 i3s since April. I am planning to get a 2019 i3s early next year with 150 mile range. My thoughts so far:

1) love the high riding position and overall visibility
2) Excellent for daily driving if that does not involve driving over 100 miles in one day
3) lack of 20″ winter tires a real disappointment, fortunately I am away for most of winter
4) have pre ordered a Rivian SUV for longer trips and off road capability

“In the first three quarters of the year(2018), the BMW Group grew its worldwide sales by 1.3% (1,834,810 units)”
“September deliveries of BMW i, BMW iPerformance and MINI Electric vehicles totalled 14,559 units worldwide, an increase of 35.0% on the same month last year and the highest monthly total ever for BMW Group electrified”

Things are really bad for BMW… i know why, BMW 3 series is selling bad because of its replacement coming in 2019!