2017 BMW i3Enlarge Photo
Tesla may garner much of the buzz surrounding electric cars, but BMW has quietly become a significant challenger in the electric-vehicle sales race.
Nissan, General Motors, and Tesla have all 100,000 to 300,000 plug-in vehicles globally, but this year, BMW and its Mini brand are on track to deliver its own 200,000th plug-in vehicle later this year.
For context, BMW does not count traditional hybrids in what calls its "electrified" lineup, only cars with a plug—so those figures are based on plug-in hybrid models, along with the all-electric i3 and an electric SUV in China.
Out of the 1.2 million vehicles BMW delivered during the first half this year, 42,573 of them were BMW i, or plug-in BMW iPerformance and Mini electric vehicles.
That represents an 80-percent increase over the same period last year—a drastic jump for a company that has only two dedicated electric cars, as it has since 2013.
From a production standpoint, BMW built a total of 51,725 plug-in cars, slightly ahead of Tesla, which built 51,126 vehicles in the same January-to-June period.
2017 BMW i3
2017 BMW i3Enlarge Photo
The figures for all makers will rise, including BMW's as it prepares to launch an all-electric variant of its 3-Series sport sedan within the next year or so.
The brand will reportedly show that car at the 2017 Frankfurt auto show and it will boast a range of 200 miles or more.
The 250-mile figure quoted in European news stories is likely based on the NEDC cycle, which means its EPA rating will likely be closer to 200 or 215 miles.
Following the all-electric 3-Series, an all-electric BMW X3 is expected to surface in 2020.
However, the oft-rumored BMW i5 electric crossover now appears to be defunct.
BMW's strategy has shifted, it seems toward a drive to "normalize" electric cars by offering them within already established nameplates, rather than as the entirely separate lineup of its "i" sub-brand.
2017 BMW 330e i PerformanceEnlarge Photo
This differs from the approach taken by rivals Mercedes-Benz and Audi, which each plan to differentiate their all-electric models with new nameplates.
BMW's 200,000th electric vehicle will be delivered sometime later this year, which likely puts the brand ahead of General Motors in total plug-in production, though behind Tesla and Nissan.
The Nissan Leaf has been the world's best-selling electric car, and the next-generation 2018 Leaf will debut on September 6.
Tesla has now delivered more than 200,000 electric cars and Nissan is approaching the 300,000 mark.
GM hovers around roughly 150,000.
These figures will all likely increase at a more rapid pace as the electric-car sales race continues to heat up.