Breaking news today regarding BMW and electric vehicles was … more or less a repeat of statements BMW made in 2013 and 2015. But BMW also provided some extra details.
On October 1, 2013, I excitedly covered the news that BMW would eventually electrify every model in its lineup. No timeline was given, but BMW decisionmakers had basically concluded that batteries had evolved enough that BMW could publicly pronounce it would go full force into electrification.
In 2015, BMW reiterated this target, but a year for hitting the target still wasn’t clear. Now, the company is stating that all models will have an electrified option by 2020 — one year behind Volvo and precisely matching Jaguar Land Rover’s just announced target. Furthermore, BMW stated that it will have 12 fully electric models by 2025 and 13 hybrids (presumably, that means plug-in hybrids).
BMW has indeed been electrifying several models since 2013, but with the problem being that these options typically have very small batteries and thus little electric range, limiting the core benefits of electric cars, and perhaps even creating a counterproductive effect.
Plug-in models BMW now has on the market include the fully electric i3 and the following plug-in hybrids: i8, 225xe, 330e, 530e, 740e, and X5 xDrive40e.
Why electrify so many models if you’re just going to stick small batteries and motors into them? As I stated earlier today when writing about Jaguar Land Rover’s new electrification push, one key reason is to comply with strengthening regulations around the world that essentially require it. Theo Leggett of the BBC expands:
Emissions regulations are getting much tighter in many key markets. In 2021, for example, the EU is bringing in tougher standards for CO2 emissions – and the way the rules have been drawn up means it will be very much in a carmaker’s interests to have some zero emissions models in its fleet.
European politicians, meanwhile, seem to be trying to outdo one another in their opposition to petrol, and especially diesel.
As a result, a big push towards electrification is already under way.
(If you want to see my most cynical take on the light plug-in hybrid approach, see: 50 Tips For Trolling EVs.)
On the whole, I think we have to say that BMW’s announcement regarding 12 fully electric models and 13 hybrids by 2025 is a good thing. It’s yet one more statement confirming that we are moving into an electric future. Anyone denying the shift at this point should have their temperature taken.
The most positive aspect of that news, though, is that BMW plans 100% electrification for 12 of those models. Right now, it only has the i3, and BMW has disappointingly slowed in its full electrification progress in recent years. Many of us assumed a fully electric i5 would be on the market by now — Tom Moloughney’s recommendation for that model was super awesome, by the way. Even so, adding 11 fully electric models by 2025 seems like a strong plan for an old auto giant like BMW.
Could it have been a faster switch? Of course! Is BMW facing an increasingly uphill battle as it falls further and further behind Tesla? Of course. Do I wish BMW would hurry up and get another fully electric car onto the market in the next year? Of course. But 12 fully electric models over the next 8 years is still one of the most ambitious statements we’ve seen from one of the conventional automakers — maybe the most ambitious.
The most important factors are going to end up being how competitively BMW designs and prices its electric offerings, how much range it puts in the plug-in hybrids, and how well BMW markets its EVs. However, if BMW is really putting the R&D investment into 12 fully electric cars and 13 more plug-in hybrids, I think you have to assume that the company is being serious at this point and wants to dominate the premium electric market in time.
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