MUNICH – BMW may expand its electric range by adding smaller and high-end cars and SUVs as it seeks to benefit from the industry shift toward battery-powered cars.
The automaker has secured naming rights for the badges i1 to i9 and iX1 to iX9, CEO Harald Krueger told reporters at a press event here.
BMW currently sells two i-badged cars – the full-electric i3 city hatchback and the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car. It plans at least two new electric cars, one likely to be called the i5 and another that may be named the i9. BMW uses the X designation for its SUVs and crossovers so electric SUVs would use the iX label.
The brand’s next EV will be a variant of the X3 called the iX3. "In 2020 we will launch the fully electric X3. In it, X and i come together," Krueger said.
Krueger didn’t expand on other EV variants but the brand’s electric flagship is expected to be called the i9. BMW said in May that it will begin production of the i brand’s flagship electric car, code-named the iNext, at its factory in Dingolfing, Germany, in 2021.
The i9 could get a crossover version called the iX9.
BMW’s upcoming 8-series coupe, due to go on sale next year and also built in Dingolfing, could get an electric version called the i8 and a crossover version called the iX8. Krueger did not mention EV versions of the 8 series but he confirmed the 8 series will have a high-performance variant called the M8.
The naming rights suggest BMW may also be planning X8 and X9 models at the top of its expanding SUV lineup. The X9 could serve markets such as the U.S., China, Russia and the Middle East which are showing appetite for models even larger than BMW’s upcoming X7, which is over 5000mm long.
As part of its SUV offensive, BMW launch two new SUVs next year – X2 and the three-row X7 – expanding its lineup comprising the X1, X3, X4, X5 and X6 to seven models.
Krueger said about a third of BMW sales are X-badged models. “Our model offensive is also an X-offensive. That is why I call 2018 the year of the “X.”
2018 sales increase
BMW will group its electrified cars – full electric and plug-in hybrids – under its i subbrand, Krueger said.
The automaker expects to sell 100,000 electrified vehicles worldwide this year after selling 78,100 electric cars and plug-in hybrids in the first 10 months. BMW executives expect sales next year to jump to 150,000.
BMW is winning new customers with its electrified lineup and the i3 and the i8 plug-in coupe have conquest rates of well over 80 percent, Krueger said. “Interestingly, a customer once buys electric, stays with electric,” he said.
More than 90,000 of the 200,000 BMW electrified vehicles currently on the roads are i3s.
Krueger confirmed BMW Group’s plan to offer 25 electrified models, including 12 full-electric cars, by 2025. Electrified models will account for between 15 percent and 25 percent of BMW’s global sales.
He said BMW’s fifth-generation of storage and battery technology will extend the driving range of EVs, making e-mobility attractive for longer distances. BMW's i Vision Dynamics concept unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show in September has a range of 600 km (373 miles). It previews a rival to the Tesla Model 3 expected to be called the i5.
BMW says scalable electric modular systems to introduced starting in 2020 will enable the company to fit all model series with any drivetrain, according to demand.
BMW currently sells plug-in hybrid versions of the 3 series, 5 series and 7 series and X5 under its iPerformance label.