The BMW Group has expanding ambitions for its hybrid and electric ‘i’ sub-brand as evidenced by the opening of a self-driving test centre in Germany and furthering development on a common modular platform designed for its future hybrid and fully electric cars.
As we’re now well aware of, the i8 sports car and i3 city car spearheaded the debut of BMW i, establishing it as a trailblazer in popularising the efficient technology and a new format of desirable but emissions-responsible cars into the public consciousness.
But with 2017 just around the corner, the Munich automaker is ready to deploy its ‘Phase 2’ electrification and intelligence strategy, told CEO Harald Krueger and reported by Automotive News.
It has some far-reaching goals too, with plans to move into customer hands 100,000 plug-in hybrid and/or fully electric cars next year alone, matching the total number of electrified cars the marque has sold in the past three years combined.
In the larger scheme of BMW’s volume, 100,000 cars seems like a drop in the pond. After all, the Group (which also includes MINI and Rolls Royce), managed to sell 2.25 million vehicles in 2017 and the increased ratio is in-line with their previously stated intentions to, in the short term, augment their petrol and diesel vehicles with some form of hybrid drive. The exact increase being 15 percent to a projected 25 percent of worldwide volume by 2025.
In the years since the introduction of the i8 and i3, BMW has faced some criticism for not making a larger impact on their product line. Certain variants of the 3 Series sedan and X5 SUV have only recently been made available as plug-in hybrids and some forays have been made into hydrogen fuel cells in collaboration with Toyota.
Looking to the future, MINI will be introducing a hybrid model as well and an fully electric X3 will join BMW’s SUV stable and prior to that we should see a substantially upgraded i8 and possibly even i3. It has been widely suspected that BMW is readying a mid-size sedan, perhaps called the i5, broaden the sub-brands’s appeal. A full preview of that car could come as early as 2017.
Concurrently, BMW is also looking toward expanding its reach into autonomous driving technology, with their CEO fully believing that class-leading driving dynamics and the ability to relinquish control to the car to drive itself are not mutually exclusive.
"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," he said.