FRANKFURT (Bloomberg) -- BMW is pushing ahead with plans to expand its i subbrand as competitors threaten to push past the automaker with more advanced electric models.
"We have a number of options that are in the final stages of consideration" to join the i3 battery-powered compact and i8 plug-in hybrid sports car in the subbrand's lineup, Ian Robertson, BMW's sales chief, said in an interview at the Frankfurt auto show. "The i unit will continue to develop."
BMW, the world's biggest maker of luxury vehicles, is under pressure as rivals roll out new vehicles in attempt to beat the carmaker in annual sales.
BMW's global deliveries in August lagged behind figures from third-place Mercedes-Benz, which added customers thanks to the new GLA compact SUV. In Frankfurt, Audi and fellow VW unit Porsche both showed sleek electric-powered models that have about three times the range of BMW's i3.
The i3 went on sale in late 2013, while the i8 came out in mid-2014. Even with the lack of more recent i vehicles, the unit has an important role in contributing technology for plug-in hybrid versions of BMW's X5 SUV, 7-series and 3-series sedans and the 2-series Active Tourer minivan, Robertson said.
BMW's strategy for electric cars is to focus on lightweight materials as well as batteries as the industry seeks to extend the distance the vehicles can drive before recharging, Chief Financial Officer Friedrich Eichiner said at a press briefing at the show.
"We don't think it makes sense to load up cars with hundreds of kilos of battery power in order to get the long ranges," Eichiner said. "That's not a solution. We think battery capacity is going to double for the same amount of weight before long."