January 6, 2018
BMW is planning to benefit from the electric vehicle race in a rather big way. The German automaker is currently throwing around plans to expand their electric offerings by creating high-end cars and crossovers/SUVs under their i-badge platform.
Speculation about BMW expanding their electric line came about when it was discovered that the automaker secured naming rights for the names i1 up to i9, as well as for iX1to iX9. For those who are unfamiliar with BMW’s naming scheme, the models that have an “i” in their name indicate that they are electric, while vehicles that contain “X” are SUVs and crossovers. Therefore, BMW securing naming rights for iX1 to iX9 indicates that they are planning on developing electric crossovers.
BMW had already announced plans to expand their electric lineup. By the year 2025, BMW wants to offer at least 25 new electric models. The current plan is that 12 of the models will be fully electric, while the other 13 will be plug-in hybrids that will come with the option of running on gas. Eventually, BMW wants electric vehicles to account for 15-25% of their global sales.
Currently, BMW sells two i-badged cars on the market: the fully electric i3 city hatchback and the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, and they have been experiencing some great success with the two vehicles. At the moment, BMW has close to 200,000 electric vehicles on the roads, with the i3 making up about 45% of that number. During the first ten months of 2017, BMW sold about 78,100 electric vehicles, and they project that they will finish this year off with 100,000 electric vehicle units sold worldwide. BMW executives have also predicted that next year, sales of their electric vehicles should reach 150,000. They have also found that their electric lineup of cars yielded a conquest rate of 80%. Along with selling electric vehicles, the automaker sells plug-in hybrid versions of their 3 series, 5 series, 7 series, and the X5 under the iPerformance label.
In order to help increase electric vehicle sales, BMW is working on improving the technology that goes into electric vehicles. The company is working on new storage and battery technology to increase the driving range of electric vehicles, as well as developing scalable electric modular systems that will enable BMW to outfit all of their models with any type of drivetrain. This will give consumers more choices in what sort of drivetrain they want their vehicle to have.
BMW is not the only brand that is going all in with adding electric vehicles to their lineup. Ford Motor Company recently announced plans to sell 15 new electric models in China along with plans to develop electric models for the US market. Volkswagen has also earmarked over $40 billion to invest in developing electric and hybrid car technology. Brands that have historically been associated with gas guzzling are also joining in on the trend. Porsche is developing their first hybrid vehicle, the Jeep Wrangler now comes with a hybrid option, and the Range Rover will be available as a plug-in hybrid.
Fully electric and plug-in hybrids have not captured mainstream attention yet. At the moment, there is no infrastructure to support the widespread use of electric cars. In order for electric cars to increase in popularity, more charging stations need to be installed and made accessible to the general public, and costs of electric vehicles need to be lowered. With more research and development being put into the vehicles, hopefully electric vehicles can gain more market share in the automotive market.