BMW vows to amp up production of electric cars with 25 models in 2023

BMW took an early lead in battery-powered driving with its i3, pictured here at the 2017 North American International Auto Show. It was first released in 2013.
BMW took an early lead in battery-powered driving with its i3, pictured here at the 2017 North American International Auto Show. It was first released in 2013.
Image: AFP

German high-end car maker BMW said on Tuesday it would accelerate its plans to build new electric models, as the whole industry comes under pressure to meet strict emissions regulations.

The Munich-based manufacturer will offer 25 electrified vehicles in 2023, "two years earlier than originally planned", chief executive Harald Krueger said in a statement.

Of those, more than half will be all-electric, while the remainder will be hybrids, BMW said.

The car maker took an early lead in battery-powered driving with its i3, released in 2013. However, it is no longer the market leader using the technology, which is indispensable for car makers to meet the EU's tough new carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rules set to bite from 2020.

Germany's flagship industry as a whole is seen as lagging foreign competitors such as  California's Tesla or China's producers.

In the first five months of 2019, BMW sold 48,000 electrified vehicles, up 2% on the same period in 2018. But that number made up just 5% of the group's total unit sales of more than 1-million.

"By 2021, we will have doubled our sales of electrified vehicles compared with 2019," Krueger promised.

Huge investments are needed to modify production lines and develop electric drive technology, weighing on car makers' bottom lines and pushing them into unprecedented collaborations.

BMW is expecting a net profit "well below the previous year's level" in 2019, in part blaming higher costs.

In response, it has linked up with Jaguar Land Rover to develop next-generation electric motors.

Meanwhile, manufacturers know electric cars will only find receptive buyers if the charging infrastructure is in place to support them.

They pressed German chancellor Angela Merkel on that point in a high-level meeting in Berlin on Monday night.

Politicians, car bosses and union representatives agreed that by 2030 there should be enough charging points to support 7-million to 10-million electric vehicles on German roads, the VDA industry federation said.

Volkswagen has also jumped feet-first into an ambitious electric strategy, planning 70 new models by 2028 and shooting for sales of 22-million over a decade.


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