BMW is charging ahead with even more expansive electric vehicles and increased sustainability efforts, as outlined at its annual conference that kicked off Wednesday in Munich, Germany. The luxury automaker says it expects around 50% of its global sales to be battery-electric vehicles by 2030.
Oliver Zipse, chairman of the board, made the following statement: “By the end of 2025, we will have delivered a total of around two million fully-electric vehicles to customers. We will also be growing our sales of fully electric models by well over 50% per year over the next few years — more than 10 times the figure for 2020.”
BMW i4 sedan
As part of a broad portfolio of announcements, BMW showed the first images of its new i4 electric sedan and revealed that the model is three months ahead of schedule. Due for production this year, the 4-Series-Gran-Coupe-based i4 is predicted to offer up to 300 miles of range on the US EPA test cycle. The EV’s Munich-based production plant is powered by Bavarian hydroelectric plants. This is part of the automaker’s drive to curb factory emissions 80% by 2030.
BMW iX SUV
Perhaps more importantly, given global sales trends, BMW also unveiled its new iX crossover SUV during the two-day conference. Riding atop a new platform, the iX has been developed on a foundation of greener materials, including greater use of recycled plastics and aluminum, as well as leather tanned via olive leaf extracts and floor mats made from used fishing nets. The all-electric challenger to Tesla’s Model X flagship and Audi’s growing E-Tron range is confirmed to deliver 300 miles of range. It’s expected to arrive in the US in early 2022, carrying a starting price tag of around $85,000.
The two-motor iX xDrive50 model will offer in excess of 500 hp and hit 62 mph in under 5 seconds en-route to a governed top speed of 124 mph. Even BMW’s entry-level, single-motor iX xDrive40 will still deliver over 300 horsepower, enabling 0-62mph acceleration runs in just over 6 seconds. It’s not immediately clear, however, whether this less-powerful variant will be offered in North America.
While certainly swift, it’s worth noting that neither of these iX models would appear to offer specifications that best Tesla’s Model X Long Range — the SUV’s base model — which delivers an estimated 360 miles of range and hits 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. (It’s worth noting that repeated real-world tests have shown Tesla’s mileage figures to be best-case scenarios while legacy automakers have been conservative in their calculations, routinely overdelivering on range by a substantial margin.)
BMW Neue Klasse
As part of the two-day conference, BMW also confirmed a previously unknown generation of vehicles, the Neue Klasse (or “New Class”) coming from 2025. Boasting new modular powertrains and higher degrees of automated driving, these EVs will incorporate next-generation batteries and software, as well as a “sharply increased” amount of recycled materials, the automaker said in a statement. Details are few, but BMW says the Neue Klasse has “the ultimate aim of matching the range and manufacturing cost of state-of-the-art combustion engines.”
It’s also worth noting that Neue Klasse is also the name of a series of groundbreaking BMW models, which began in 1962 with the 1500 sedan.
Mini goes all-in on EVs
As had been rumored, the BMW Group’s Mini brand will transition to be 100% electric “by the early 2030s.” The company’s last new model to debut with a combustion engine will bow in 2025. BMW’s retro-styled small-car city brand has struggled for relevance in recent years, with slipping sales exacerbated by a lack of SUV models. Today, Mini only offers one all-electric model, the low-cost, city-focused Cooper SE, which has been a sales sales bright spot for the brand.
BMW still investing in hydrogen
While BMW’s focus will be on expanding its battery-electric vehicle (BEV) range, the automaker also confirmed plans to release a small series of BMW i Hydrogen NEXT models, though it isn’t clear where those vehicles will be made available, or how. In a press statement, the company noted “we could also imagine it as a production vehicle,” which suggests that the i Hydrogen NEXT might be a part of a pilot program, not a traditionally manufactured vehicle available for purchase or lease. BMW previously showed an X5 SUV-based i Hydrogen NEXT concept with fuel-cell technology developed with Toyota, a brand it’s been working with on the tech since at least 2013.
BMW iDrive 8
As part of the run-up to its annual conference, BMW also revealed details of its next-generation iDrive 8 infotainment system. The new 5G-capable hardware will arrive first in the automaker’s range of EVs, and it includes an unusual curved display and improved tech, including an avatar-like presence when a user summons the digital voice assistant. The system will bow on the new i4 and iX models.
Despite these massive ongoing investments in electrification and digitalization technologies, BMW is boosting profit predictions for 2021 to 6% to 8%, more than double the 2.7% profit return in pandemic-stricken 2020.