BMW board member Pieter Nota handed over a BMW iX xDrive40 Monday, marking a milestone in BMW’s car making history.
“The delivery of our 1-millionth electrified vehicle marks a milestone in our transformation — and we already have the next one in our sights: We aim to break through the 2-million mark in just two years,” said Nota, who is responsible for BMW Group customers, brands and sales, in a statement.
“By 2025 the BMW Group will have delivered around 2 million fully-electric vehicles to customers. We expect at least one out of every two BMW Group vehicles sold to be fully electric by 2030.”
How many BMWs will be fully electric remains to be seen
With nearly 70% of BMW’s EVs sold being hybrids, it remains to be seen how quickly consumers adapt to a future free of internal combustion engines, or ICE. Certainly many automakers are preparing for such a future as governments ban new ICE vehicles by 2035. Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and other European-based auto companies are investing hundreds of billions of dollars, with VW forecast to spend more than $100 billion alone to meet the requirements. BMW is no different.
“The BMW Group is not worried about this,” said BMW CEO Oliver Zipse last month. “Whether it’s a good idea is another question … but we will have an offering.”
New models arrive as others depart
Less than two weeks ago, BMW took the wraps off its Concept XM prototype at Art Basel Miami Beach, which foreshadows an upcoming series production vehicle. It is the first “electrified” M model but it’s a plug-in hybrid with a V-8 generating 750 horsepower and 737 pound-feet of torque. Its 20-kilowatt-hour battery is expected to provide at least 30 miles of all-electric range under global WLTP tests at speeds up to 80 mph.
Frank van Meel, the CEO of BMW M GmbH stated today’s batteries don’t have the juice to do more than a few laps on the track, where BMW expects many owners will take their production XM. While a high-performance M-badged BEV could eventually arrive, it’s something the company is still fleshing out.
Scheduled to reach U.S. showrooms later this year, the i4 and iX replace the quirky i3 and sporty i8.
The i4 40 comes with a 335-hp rear-mounted motor capable of running 0-60 in 5.5 seconds. The i4 M50 adds a second motor up front, increasing output to 536 hp and reducing 0-60 mph runs to 3.7 seconds. Prices will start at $55,400 and top out at $83,200.
In addition, there will be the BMW iX xDrive50, with 516 hp from two electric motors providing full-time all-wheel drive. The iX is built using carbon fiber-reinforced plastic body panels to save weight. An iX M60 model is expected with more than 600 hp. An adjustable air suspension and rear-wheel steering are optional. Expect prices to start at $84,195 when it goes on sale in 2022.
The company says the vehicles will deliver up to 300 miles on a charge.
But beyond special models, BMW will add fully electric versions of the BMW 7 Series and X1, with the 5 Series to follow in 2023, along with the Mini Countryman and the all-electric Rolls-Royce Spectre. By 2030, Mini and Rolls-Royce will be fully electric.
Like Toyota, BMW is hedging its bets
In June, BMW said it is continuing to develop its i Hydrogen Next fuel-cell technology, starting “real-life” testing of the new drivetrain on European roads. The company said the hydrogen-electric drivetrain is being developed in partnership with Toyota.
“The hydrogen fuel cell technology could quite feasibly become the fourth pillar of our powertrain portfolio in the long term. The upper-end models in our extremely popular X family would make particularly suitable candidates here,” said Klaus Fröhlich, BMW’s development boss, in March 2020. The driveline is just part of the alliance with Toyota, one established in 2013.
Like BMW, Toyota isn’t convinced of an all-battery-electric future. The Japanese automaker released a redesigned version of the Mirai, the world’s first mass-produced hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, which debuted in 2014. And it’s working with Hino to produce fuel-cell-powered Class 8 trucks.
And BMW added plug-in hybrid versions of the X5 crossover and 3 Series sedan late last year — increasing BMW’s EV sales 8.9% compared with the same period in 2019. The company, like others, is watching development of synthetic fuels, which other European automakers, including Lamborghini and McLaren, think might become an alternative fuel source.
But beyond hybrids, fuel cell vehicles and synthetic fuel, BMW is still developing new vehicles with battery electric drivelines. The Bavarian automaker expects that over the next ten years or so, the BMW Group plans to release a total of approximately 10 million BEVs, with one fully electric model in about 90% of its current market segments by 2023.