FRANKFURT -- BMW will invest 3 billion euros through the end of this year on the development of its electric vehicle lineup, funding the "i" subbrand with earnings from its booming business in China, a German business newspaper reported.
Handelsblatt said today the sum, which covers 2011 through 2013, is based on calculations it made with the bank Credit Suisse.
A BMW spokeswoman told Automotive News Europe that the number was a "little high" and added that she was not sure how the report had arrived at this figure.
Citing unofficial sources at the automaker, Handelsblatt estimated that about a third of the BMW Group's 2012 EBIT of 7.6 billion euros were generated by sales in China. The story didn't say how much of BMW Groups 2011 EBIT could be attributed to China.
BMW, like other automakers, is developing electric vehicles in a bid to meet stricter emissions rules in the European Union, United States and China. BMW Group's fleet, which includes BMW-, Mini- and Rolls-Royce-brand models, had an average CO2 emissions of 144.8 grams per kilometer in the EU in 2011, according to EU data. It needs to reduce that to 138.4g/km by 2015, at which time the targeted total CO2 fleet average for all cars is 130g/km.
The EU is debating new rules that could reduce the total fleet target to 95g/km. Manufacturers hope to be able to offset higher emission vehicles in their fleets through the production of electric cars.
BMW plans to launch the first model in its EV lineup, the four seat i3 city car, in the fourth quarter of this year. The company will unveil a production version of the model at the Frankfurt auto show in September.
The i3 will be followed by the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car in early 2014. No prices have been announced yet for either model, but the i8's price will exceed 100,000 euros, Ian Robertson, the manufacturer's sales chief, has said.
Poor EV sales
The i3 will enter a market that has yet to meet industry expectations.
In Europe last year Nissan sold 5,210 Leaf EVs, according to figures from JATO Dynamics. That was well below the automaker's target of 9,000 Leaf sales for Europe in 2012. U.S. deliveries of the Leaf failed to reach even half of the 20,000 cars the Japanese manufacturer was targeting last year.
BMW, however, is confident of success. Harald Krueger, the carmaker's head of production, has said the group is "charting new territory" with the i3 and i8 models and said he is confident the group will earn money with every BMW i3 sold from the launch on.