Weight of batteries is too great to create a true performance car at present, claims Klaus Frohlich

BMW M cars will not go fully electric until they can offer comparable track or fast road driving experiences to today’s cars, according to the firm’s head of development, Klaus Fröhlich.

Asked why the BMW M Next concept revealed today was a plug-in hybrid rather than a fully electric vehicle, Fröhlich said: “M is not and can never be just about longitudinal acceleration. You have to have the capability of fun driving with corners, and that makes weight key.

“The M Next concept weighs in at 1600-1650kg - acceptable for a car that is sensational to drive. Even with a great package, the equivalent would be at least 2.1 tonnes, which is not acceptable for an M car. Until then we will have normally aspirated, turbo and ‘powered’ PHEV applications that deliver what we want to achieve.”

However, Fröhlich did concede that full battery-powered M cars were in the pipeline, and would be likely to make production around 2025. “The definition of M is not remotely about technology, but only performance,” he said. "When we can deliver that, we will have the option to switch.”

However, Fröhlich added that solid-state batteries - regarded as an opportunity to halve weight and cost for the same power density - will not be ready for mass production until the 2030s.

Fröhlich also highlighted that electrified applications can deliver benefits for performance car drivers, notably around more tunable traction control settings. “The control can be 100% faster than on an M4 today, so it is easy to have a more responsive car,” he said. “If you want a drift mode that slips to five or ten degrees - even 45 - then it is easy.”

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21

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1 September 2019

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