At the same time, BMW will bid to become a leader in autonomous driving technology and driver assistance features through heavy investment in a three-way joint venture it operates with Intel and MobileEye.
The other pillar of BMW’s programme centres around strengthening its digital competency and expanding its internet-based services through BMW Connect, which is considered crucial to future revenue streams.
The shift in BMW’s priorities is intended to counter the threat posed by companies such as Tesla, Uber and Google while thwarting similar plans recently unveiled by Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz.
The Strategy Number One Next paper tabled by Krüger targets up to 500,000 electric car sales annually by 2025, and some 20% of total volumes. That’s more than an 18-fold increase on its electric car sales in 2015. Sales boss Ian Robertson has revealed that total i and i Performance sales have now reached 100,000 units in three years and it plans to sell that number again in 2017 alone due to the increasing popularity of the technology.
In the first stage of the strategy, Krüger has confirmed plans for electric versions of the Mini Cooper hatchback and the upcoming third-generation X3. “Now we are going to complete the second phase of our electrification strategy with plug-in models in our traditional line-up and other pure-electric drivelines for the Mini and the X3,” he said.
The electric-powered Mini is set to be sold under the name Cooper E and is scheduled for launch in 2019. It will feature a similar 300km (186-mile) range as the recently upgraded i3. In 2020, BMW plans to introduce the electric X3 with a range, insiders suggest, that will match that of rival zero-emission SUVs, at around 500km (311 miles).
Also under development but not yet official are plans for an electric version of the upcoming 3 Series. Although not part of BMW’s initial wave of traditional models to have electric drive, it is being readied as a rival to the Tesla Model 3, with a launch planned for 2021. It will make sure its next-generation models are able to take a range of different power sources, including internal combustion engines, plug-in hybrid and pure electric, in order to quickly respond to changing demand for the different technologies.
However, the centrepiece of BMW’s Strategy Number One Next is an electric model referred to as the iNext but set to take the i5 name into production in 2021.
“Our Strategy Number One Next is centred on consequent lightweight construction, alternative drivetrain technology, connectivity, autonomous driving functions and the interior of the future. The iNext will set the standard from 2021,” said Krüger.