Powered by the fifth generation of battery and drivetrain technology, from 2021, BMW will be able to offer all-electric vehicles (EVs) with a range of up to 700 km, and plug-in hybrids with an electrical range of up to 100 km, the German car maker said this week as it released its annual financial results in Munich.
This would be more than double the range currently on offer in most electric vehicles.
One of the biggest factors inhibiting all-electric vehicle sales is the driver’s range anxiety – the fear that the car will run out of juice before the day ends.
BMW says it intends to rapidly increase sales of electrified vehicles (all-electric and plug-in hybrid) to customers worldwide.
In 2017, the group sold more than 103 000 electrified vehicles worldwide, accounting for a 21% share of electrified vehicle sales in Europe. This is a 65% jump compared with 2016 sales.
The car maker said it intended to grow global sales of electrified vehicles to at least 140 000 units in 2018.
This growth will partly be fueled by a range of new products.
BMW says it aims to have 25 electrified models by 2025, of which 12 will be pure electric.
The only current all-electric model is the i3, which is also on sale in South Africa.
In February, BMW and Chinese group Great Wall, signed a letter of intent to establish a joint venture for the local production of fully electric Mini vehicles in China.
China is the market “moving to electrification the most”, said BMW management board member for finance, Dr Nicolas Peter, on Wednesday. “China is a key market for electrification.”
China’s embrace of electric vehicles comes in the wake of increasing urban pollution in the Asian country.
In 2019, the Oxford plant, in the UK, will already start production of the fully electric Mini.
BMW chairperson Harald Krüger regarded the urban Mini brand as “ideal for electrification. This brand will be fully electric in future”.
BMW will also launch an all-electric i4, to be manufactured at the Munich plant. No date has been announced for its market introduction.
An all electric iX3 sports-utility vehicle (SUV) is also on the cards, set for introduction in 2020.
While South Africa will start production of the X3 SUV for the local and export markets later this year, the Rosslyn plant, in Pretoria, is not earmarked to produce the iX3, says BMW Group South Africa.
The company does not say if the vehicle will be launched in South Africa.
Already BMW is producing electrified vehicles at ten locations worldwide.
Krüger noted that BMW was setting up all its plants to build electric vehicles, hybrid and vehicles with internal combustion engines on a single line. He said this should provide some flexibility to the group to respond to the market quickly.
“Our future is definitely electric,” he emphasised.
The group’s research and development spending backs this notion.
Peter said the German car maker would be strengthening its expertise in battery-cell research with investments in the “three-digit million-euro range over the coming years”.
Electric vehicle battery range, size, weight, lifecycle and recharge speed are all viewed as competitive differentiators.
Krüger added that BMW was operating in a technological and regulatory market that was changing “extremely fast”.
“We need to respond faster to those changes. We need to increase our speed of development. Everything we do, we want to do much faster.”
He noted that BMW was taking “everybody serious” when it came to all-electric vehicles, including Tesla and a number of Chinese manufacturers.
“We are not doing too badly compared with the competition.”