Several German automakers held their annual shareholders meeting this week and just like during Daimler’s last month, the subject of competing with Tesla in the luxury segment with long-range electric vehicle came up. German premium automakers like Audi, BMW and Porsche are admittedly about 6 years behind Tesla with the first few 200+ miles range electric vehicles coming to market starting in 2018 – versus Tesla’s Model S which launched in 2012.
BMW took the occasion to clearly lay out its electric vehicle plan under its ‘i’ sub-brand. The company confirmed that it will launch the new electric and autonomous iNext model in 2021. The vehicle is based on the recently unveiled ‘NEXT 100’ concept – picture above.
CEO Harald Krueger reminded everyone that the BMW i3’s new battery pack will become available in the “next few weeks”. The new 33 kWh battery pack will allow for up to “up to 114 miles” of range on a single charge – up from the 80 miles of the previous model.
It is a welcomed improvement, but the rest of the plan is lacking.
Here’s BMW CEO Harald Krueger’s full statement on the automaker’s upcoming electric vehicles:
“Since 2013,revolution in automotive engineering has been all about the electric BMW i3. So, let’s take a look at our expansion of BMW i. We have sold more than 50,000 I vehicles to date. But BMW i is more than just a car. BMW i attracts new customers to BMW. BMW i provides access to electro-mobility: 20 per cent of our DriveNow car-sharing fleet is already electric. I have always emphasised that electro-mobility is a marathon, not a sprint. We are further expanding the BMW i line-up. In just a few weeks, we will offer an i3 with 50 per cent more battery capacity. In 2018, we will launch a BMW i8 Roadster. This will be followed in 2021 by the BMW i NEXT, our new innovation driver, with autonomous driving, digital connectivity, intelligent lightweight design, a totally new interior and ultimately bringing the next generation of electro-mobility to the road.”
The new i8 has been rumored to launch for the past 3 years and there’s nothing too exciting here. Krueger makes it sound like there will not be much in-between the new i8 and the iNext, which would be very disappointing.
He said nothing about the BMW i6, the group’s third “i” electric vehicle and expected to be a long-range SUV to compete with the Tesla Model X. It was expected to soon have an official timeline to release and the latest report suggested that it would hit the market by the end of the decade.
Maybe Krueger forgot about the SUV after hitting his head rushing to get out of Tesla’s Model X at the Geneva Motor Show.