Next i car pushed back to 2021.
Of all the wonders that presented themselves at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, BMW didn’t have its hand in any of them. The company has slowed its innovation push, and decided to focus its energy on updating and electrifying its current lineup. This may not be a negative…
CEO Harald Krüger believes in making more of what his customers already like, and making the products better. This means, at least for now, it’s no surprise to see a wagon version of the 5 Series, or a minimally adapted 4 Series, at an international auto show, while competitors are pushing new models.
“We’re transforming BMW from a carmaker into a tech company and a mobility-service provider. During this transformation, there’s one constant factor: a rigorous focus on what helps our customers and what they desire.”
The news can be seen in a positive light, if we look at the fact that BMW does plan to electrify, and according to Krüger, BMW’s offerings will be monumental. He shared:
“BMW is large enough to master the investment demands for future technologies and keep profitability up. In future, we’re betting on maximum flexibility and scalability so as to bring electric mobility to a new and unprecedented level.”
Krüger believes that the electric car race is more comparable to a long marathon, than a sprint. He insists that the company needs to continue doing what it does best, and remain profitable, while continuing to work toward the future.
Looking at the other side of the coin, competitors like Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen are moving forward. Mercedes has plans for at least 10 electric models in the near future, and VW promises the I.D. family of around 30 EVs, in about the same time frame. Harald Hendrikse, a Morgan Stanley analyst out of London, said:
“The danger is that these new vehicles like Mercedes’ EQ and Volkswagen’s I.D. are a huge success, leaving BMW wrong-footed. The push for electric cars does feel more real this time.”
However, EVs make up less than one percent of the current worldwide automotive market share. IHS Automotive believes that that number could rise as high as eight percent by 2025. Meanwhile, it is not likely that people will cease to buy BMW’s vehicles. While Krüger is not moving as quickly as his predecessors at BMW, he has set plans moving in the right direction. BMW hopes to release more i cars around 2021, and the company is already underway with an EV “boot camp” for about 14,000 of its managers.
Krüger himself will explain and educate his employees “en masse” about his upcoming strategies. He has built a huge temporary structure on the grounds of an old airport in Maisach, near Munich, where BMW runs a driving academy. Over the course of three months, Krüger will bring in large groups of managers to address electric drivetrains, and go into detail about connected cars and future software. BMW ran a similar camp in 2008, leading up to the production of the i3.
So, it seems that BMW is taking all the right steps, but is just not so concerned with the pace, and with brand new models. Though some people may be disappointed in having to wait, the automaker’s history and reputation should keep its customers along for the ride.
“BMW’s decision to go for a gradual approach feels like the safer one in terms of investment outlay. There’s no evidence to suggest people need a special-looking electric car and won’t buy a 3 Series with a good battery range.”
We can think of just a few hundred thousand people who might find happiness in a long-range electric