BMW’s centre of gravity moving towards EVs

December 12, 2016

BMW has announced a major shift away from combustion engines to electric vehicles (EVs) as it moves towards becoming an electric, autonomous and services-led mobility company. 

Over the next few years, BMW will electrify by providing plug-in hybrid versions for every one of its models, starting with the 530e iPerformance in March next year. This will be expanded with new core launches such as the all-electric Mini Cooper E hatchback in 2019, culminating in the iNext – believed to be the i5 – in 2021, which is considered the future standard. 

This is a serious reshaping of a company that has been slow to adapt to the autonomous future, and unenthusiastic about electric cars only last week. 

Electric and autonomy will be central in BMW’s brand ethos of ‘sheer driving pleasure’ going forward. Chief executive officer Harald Krueger said: ‘The sudden acceleration of EVs perfectly fits with sheer driving pleasure and our customers will always be able to decide when they want to drive or to be driven.’ 

BMW’s engineering head Klaus Fröhlich added: ‘The BMW Group’s vision is clearly defined: We want to be the leader in autonomous driving.’ 

This is a welcome repositioning for BMW, which will enter the electric vehicle frey in earnest just in time. The upmarket Mini Cooper E looks particularly promising for turning quality perceptions of electric vehicles, particularly in its UK home market, where electric vehicles are just beginning to take off. 

BMW aims to increase annual sales of electric vehicles to 500,000 by 2025, 20% of its total volume and a massive 18 times more than 2015. Its moves are also aimed at countering the growing threat from technology firms disrupting the traditional industry, such as Tesla, Uber and Google, and also to compete with rival established players such as Audi, Jaguar and Daimler, all of whom have recently unveiled similar forward-looking strategies.

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