BMW’s sub-brand experiment is evolving rather dramatically. Soon both BMW and MINI will be offering full electric cars (in the form the X3 and MINI hatch in 2020) taking away the one defining characteristic of BMWi to date. According to a recent interview in Automotive News, BMW is investing enormous sums of money to rebuild production line in order to accommodate petrol, hybrid and full electric production in the same plant and even on the same line. This will allow BMW and MINI to offer hybrid and electric versions of its core products more cost effectively and efficiently. It also changes BMWi’s value prop to date.
Via Automotive news:
“Nobody knows how many electric vehicles you’ll sell in 2020, 2021 and 2025,” BMW CEO Harald Krueger said. “You don’t know how many plug-in hybrids you will sell, and you don’t know how many combustion engines you will sell. The only answer is flexibility [to] deliver all three.”
“The strategy for the future is to integrate all drivetrains, whether it’s purely battery-electric, whether it’s a hybrid or a purely combustion engine,” said Oliver Zipse, BMW AG board member in charge of production. “You will see battery-electric right after diesel right after hybrid on the assembly line. That’s the only way we think to respond to the necessary flexibility because we don’t know the demand.”
He went on to say:
“Everything depends on what the customer demands, but then we need to be able to integrate very fast,” Flor said. “We need to have this production-ready.”
That’s really the key. BMW is admitting that its own forecasts are unclear when it comes to consumer buying habits. And given BMWi and sales to date it’s easy to see why. On one hand you have the success of Tesla and the increasingly desire for electric vehicles from governments around the world. On the other you have markets like the US which seem to be slowly adopting electric versions of seemingly standard cars.