During today’s NEXTGen event in Munich, Germany, BMW announced changes to its electrification plans in the near future. It also revealed a new range of electric concept vehicles, including the BMW Vision M Next and Vision DC Roadster. What is especially interesting about the unveiling, however, is how closely the Vision M Next resembles a BMW i8 sports car. Is this the answer to a next generation BMW i8?
BMW’s Electrification Plans
As major international markets make headway in decarbonizing road transport with tighter regulations, European automobile manufacturers are scrambling to catch up. This pressure is pushing automakers like BMW towards electrification even faster than before.
BMW plans on moving away from internal combustion engines and towards the battery technology of the future. This means doubling the number of hybrid and fully electric vehicles it produces and sells over the next two years. By 2023, BMW seeks to have 25 electrified models on sale, which is 2 years earlier than previously intended. At least half of these new models will be fully electric.
BMW Next Generation i8?
The BMW Vision M Next certainly hearkens back to the plug-in hybrid i8 with its visual design and mechanical layout, especially its distinctive butterfly doors. Buyers can choose between rear and all-wheel drive, with a Boost+ mode for that additional power burst. The Vision M Next steps up the game by upgrading to a turbo-4 motor, however, and combined with the combustion engine, the car’s overall specs show a combined system output of 600 horsepower, a top speed of 186 mph (300 kph), and acceleration from 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds.
But… it is still a hybrid? Why not upgrade to an all-electric powertrain, BMW? The Vision M Next may look nice, but it can only travel 62 miles (100 kilometers) on a single charge. I have a feeling that this half-hearted attempt at entering the electric sports car market is going to come back to bite BMW in a few years, once more all-electric supercars are available.
Geo-Fencing & eDrive Zone
BMW will also be releasing a new ‘eDrive Zone’ function for all of its plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) from 2020 onwards, which will use geo-fencing technology to recognize when a vehicle is entering an urban emissions-free zone and automatically switch the hybrid car’s driving mode to all-electric. Who knows what will happen when the car runs out of charge in those zones, though, since BMW PHEV cars generally have a very limited all-electric range.
To further incentivize drivers to go electric, BMW will introduce ‘myBMW points’, a rewards program where drivers earn points for every kilometer driven solely on electric power and charging the car’s battery. They would also earn extra points in eDrive Zones. These points can be spent on rewards like free charging, products from BMW’s Share Now and Park Now services, and purchases on the ConnectedDrive App Store.
BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster
The Vision M Next was not the only new concept to hit the public today. BMW also revealed their latest two-wheeled vehicle at NEXTGen, the Motorrad Vision DC Roadster. Built with aluminum and carbon fiber to reduce weight and increase performance, this motorcycle is BMW’s first glimpse of an electric full-sized motorcycle. We do not have any performance or technical specs to look at just yet, however, so it is anyone’s guess as to what to expect if it ever hits production.