In a not so surprising but disappointing report for EV enthusiasts today, we learn that BMW is putting its electric vehicle programs on the “back burner” in order to focus its ‘i’ brand, under which the German automaker has been releasing its electric vehicles, on self-driving cars instead.
The company reportedly will not release a new all-electric vehicle until 2021.
The report comes from Reuters after an interview with BMW board member Klaus Froehlich at the company’s headquarters in Munich. The publication reports:
“The company has changed tack after its only fully battery-powered car, the i3, failed to gain traction with the public, with only 25,000 sales last year. By contrast, Tesla has already received more than 370,000 orders for its Model 3.
Now, rather than seeking to match the likes of Tesla and Porsche with a new zero-emissions sports limousine for release within the next two years, its main focus will be on developing an electric car with the next generation of technology: autonomous driving.”
At least it will still be electric, but it sounds like any new release under the BMW i brand will be powered by a hybrid drivetrain until 2021. It looks like the news directly affect the release of 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.
Coincidentally (or likely not), the revamping of the company’s ‘i division’ follows the recent departure of the bulk of its executives for a Chinese electric vehicle startup. We recently reported that 2 Tesla executives followed BMW i’s leadership at the startup called ‘Future Mobility’.
I say the report is not so surprising because the company has been hinting at a focus on autonomous technology since the unveiling of its new crazy looking autonomous vehicle concept earlier this year (pictured above).
The company also talked about its plans for brand last month and it only mentioned the electric and autonomous iNext in 2021, new i8 in 2018 and not much in-between.