BMW Group has spent the last decade seeding and growing its plug-in vehicle program, and now it's preparing to expand it in a big way. With nine electrified models already wired up in its stables, BMW will hit the market running, adding an all-electric Mini Hatch and i8 convertible on the way to dropping an electric powertrain option for every model series. If it stays on this path, it might just have to change its name to BEW (Bayerische Elektromotoren Werke).
BMW has put its foot on the gas ... er, accelerator ... in launching electrified cars of late, debuting models like the 740e iPerformance and Mini Countryman ALL4 S E Hybrid. As one of the pillars of its Number One : Next corporate strategy, electrification will continue growing in the coming years. BMW expects electrified vehicles to account for 15 to 25 percent of sales by 2025.
It can't sell 'em if it doesn't make 'em, and BMW definitely has plans to put more electric and plug-in hybrid models in dealership windows. Among the first wave of electrified vehicles will be a fully electric Mini – not a production version of the sweet, little Superleggera Vision roadster pictured just below, but a three-door Hatch headed for production in 2019. BMW will build the e-Mini's electric powertrain at its Dingolfing and Landshut plants in Bavaria before integrating it into the car at its Oxford plant in the UK.
The new electric Mini will mark a kind of full-circle journey. BMW traces the beginnings of its modern electrification program back to an all-electric, three-door Mini Hatch. Long before there was an iPerformance – or even an "i" – there was an "E," the Mini E. The trial electric car was a converted Mini with a 204-hp electric motor driving the front wheels and a 35 kWh battery in place of rear seats.
Following the Mini E, BMW kept the ball rolling rather quickly with concepts like the Vision EfficientDynamics, the ActiveE and the Megacity Vehicle. Then "Project i" became an official sub-brand, and models like the i3 and i8 brought BMW's electric R&D to market, laying the groundwork for further electrification.
BMW confirms that lessons learned from the Mini E project "played a crucial role in the subsequent development of the BMW i3 and BMW i8, technology pioneers which themselves informed the company's current range of plug-in hybrid vehicles."
The i8 isn't finished informing just yet, as the open-top version is being readied for market. BMW teased the i8 Roadster this month ahead of a 2018 launch. An all-electric BMW X3 will follow in 2020, and the autonomous i Next will maneuver itself to center stage in 2021.
BMW also has plans to develop a next-generation vehicle architecture capable of accommodating both combustion engine and electrified powertrains, allowing it to offer electrified variants of each and every model series. Toward that end, it will also update its manufacturing infrastructure to give plants the ability to simultaneously build models with combustion engine, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric powertrains.
As for the present, BMW expects to end 2017 with 100,000 electrified vehicles sold and 200,000 on roadways.