BMW AG (NASDAQOTH:BAMXF) will launch 12 new all-electric vehicles between now and 2025, as part of a larger move into electrified drivetrains, the company said on Wednesday -- and it will unveil one of them next week.
Speaking at an event on Wednesday, BMW CEO Harald Krueger said the company will reveal a new all-electric four-door sedan at next week's auto show in Frankfurt, Germany. The new model will join BMW's "i" sub-brand, slotting in between the small i3 and the i8 sports car.
What BMW said: 25 new "electrified" vehicles
Krueger said the company plans to launch a total of 25 "electrified vehicles," including 12 fully electric vehicles, over the next eight years. All three of BMW's brands -- Mini, BMW, and Rolls-Royce -- will be included in the effort. "Electrified vehicles" include fully electric vehicles as well as conventional and plug-in hybrids.
Most of those electric vehicles will be announced in the future. Krueger reiterated that an electric version of the compact Mini will be launched in 2019, and an all-electric version of the BMW X3 crossover SUV will follow in 2020.
Krueger also said BMW will unveil another electric model, a four-door sedan that will be offered under BMW's "i" sub-brand, at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt next week. (That's the car under the blue cover in the preceding photo.) It will go into production by 2021, Krueger said.
BMW's product chief, Klaus Froelich, reiterated BMW's plan to build electric, hybrid, and internal-combustion-powered versions of all of its core vehicles on shared assembly lines. This plan, he said, will give BMW an advantage as consumer preferences evolve in different markets around the world:
The trend toward electric mobility is irreversible. But it will happen in different ways and at various speeds in different parts of the world. The change in China is just one example. Customers all over the world will prefer different types of powertrain for a very long time.
So from 2020 onwards, we will meet their needs by offering all types of drive trains in all vehicle classes. And we are the only car company worldwide to do so. Our customers will be able to choose between super-efficient, super-clean combustion engines, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric battery-powered vehicles.
Our fully flexible architectures and modular systems ensure we can act quickly and in response to market conditions.
The electric-vehicle systems that BMW is developing now will allow for mass-produced models with a range of up to 700 kilometers (about 435 miles) on the European testing standard. BMW's plug-in hybrids will have electric-only ranges of up to 100 kilometers (62 miles), Froelich said.
Part of a larger plan to transform BMW
BMW's aggressive push into electrification is the next phase of a previously announced strategy that the company calls "NUMBER ONE > NEXT." Krueger summed it up in his presentation on Wednesday:
We call the driving forces of future mobility the ACES: automated, connected, electrified, and services -- specifically, mobility services. These are key elements of our corporate strategy, NUMBER ONE > NEXT, our roadmap for the future. The BMW Group is becoming more and more a tech company -- and we are in an excellent position to move forward with the ACES.
Krueger noted that BMW's tech efforts have attracted big-name partners that are helping the company develop fully self-driving vehicles, including chipmaker Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and its Mobileye subsidiary, as well as major auto-technology suppliers Delphi Automotive (NYSE:DLPH) and Continental AG.
BMW, Delphi, Mobilieye, and Intel are working together to develop a series of self-driving systems that may be offered to other automakers as well.
The upshot: Despite an uncertain payoff, BMW is committed
For years, BMW has been locked in a fierce battle with rivals Mercedes-Benz and Audi AG for global luxury-vehicle dominance. That battle has been shaken up over the past few years by the emergence of Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), which has been taking more and more sales in high-profit market segments that the three German brands had long had largely to themselves.
As Tesla has continued to ramp up its production, the pressure on BMW and its rivals to respond with products that can match Tesla's technology has grown. At the same time, Volkswagen's diesel-emissions scandal has changed the political and regulatory environment in Europe: Where there had been skepticism of Tesla and electric vehicles generally, there's now growing support for widespread adoption of electrified drivetrains.
Those are the drivers behind BMW's aggressive investments in electrification and self-driving. It's too early to tell how, when, or even whether these new technologies will boost BMW's bottom line -- but it's clear that BMW is now fully committed to the effort.