As BMW enters its second century in business, executives at the company’s annual Analyst and Investor Conference highlighted record revenues and earnings along with a commitment to expand the BMW Group’s role as an innovation leader in electric and autonomous mobility. While discussion of electric vehicles was presented quite prominently at the company’s annual meeting in a nod to the potentially large (though currently modest) electric vehicle market, in the interest of maintaining sustainable profitability in the face of uncertainty the executives stressed flexibility and scalability.
Despite dramatic technological advances in electrification, the company recognizes that for reasons such as regulatory variability, low oil prices, and today’s customer preferences, not all markets and segments will develop at the same pace.
Reflecting the varied demand for fully electric battery-powered vehicles, Chairman Harald Krüger reports that, while BMW is today capable of incorporating plug-in technology into every vehicle (with full-electric mobility possible in every vehicle by 2020), the company will also “[use] highly flexible architectures [to] avoid duplicate investments in plant and equipment and . . . be able to adapt our range of electric and conventional vehicles to changing demand both quickly and efficiently.” This approach is good news for both customers and stockholders, as it demonstrates BMW’s commitment to providing innovative and appealing vehicles while ensuring financial viability.
Ten years after beginning “project i” and four years after launching the i3, BMW this year will offer eight plug-in hybrid models, plans to sell 100,000 electrified vehicles in a single year for the first time, and will deliver its 200,000th electric vehicle.
The company will welcome the plug-in Mini this summer, the all-new i8 Roadster in 2018, an all-electric Mini in 2019, and an all-electric X3 in 2020. By 2025, BMW projects, full-electrics and plug-in hybrids will account for 15 to 20 percent of the company’s sales.
In a nod to the economical fuel efficiency benefits that “mild hybrid” systems deliver, BMW also announced at the annual meeting that all of the company’s vehicles will be equipped with 12 and 48-volt energy recovery systems by 2025.