Prototype for BMW iNext electric SUV due in 2021
At its annual shareholders meeting in Munich on Wednesday, BMW laid out plans to bring 12 new all-electric cars to market by 2025, including five in the next two years.
Along with the company's existing i3, the first five will include the Mini Electric, due on sale later this year, the iX3 SUV next year, and the i4 sedan and iNext SUV in 2021.
Alongside the 12 electric cars by 2025, the company said it will sell 13 plug-in hybrids, which will include upcoming longer-range plug-in versions of the 3-Series, 7-Series, X3, and X5. It showed the new lineup of plug-in hybrids, which deliver up to 50 miles of electric range, earlier this month at the Geneva auto show.
All told, the company will have more than 10 plug-in and electric models on the market by the end of next year, it said.
With all this electrification, BMW also announced that it will cut its existing drivetrain variants in half. Several BMWs are known for offering virtually every type of mainstream powertrain in a single model, from gas and diesel I-4s, I-6s, and M V-8s, to plug-in hybrids, and soon electrics, with and without all-wheel drive. With electric and plug-in hybrid models, it's much easier to use one or two small engines as range extenders across the lineup and vary the size and output of the battery pack than to depend on those small engines to stand alone in different models.
The company also gave more details on its upcoming electric-vehicle powertrains, noting that the upcoming iX3 SUV will be the first model to use BMW's fifth-generation electric powertrain architecture, which uses more densely constructed battery packs to save weight and cost and increase capacity.
In September, a supplier demonstrated a 100-kilowatt-hour battery pack that fit into a BMW i3 and delivered 435 miles of range, the same specs BMW has quoted for its iNext electric SUV.
The fifth-generation architecture will also use motors with no rare-earth metals, the company said, making them cheaper and perhaps easier to produce.
BMW recently announced a plan to spend in the neighborhood of $56 million to expand its factory in Dingolfing, Germany, to produce the advanced fifth-generation battery packs, and is investing in a battery supplier system that could produce new cells from those recycled from old BMW battery packs.
The company was an early leader in electric cars, but recently has begun to lag not only Tesla, but other mainstream automakers such as GM and Nissan as it has revamped its electric-car strategy and fallen behind the plans of other European rivals such as Volkswagen.
The new announcement streamlining its internal combustion offerings and expanding electrics may be just what the company needs to put it back in the hunt.