BMW Is Finally Getting Serious About Going Electric

BMW is trying to cover every base when it comes to future powertrains, but it has also largely played it safe with electric cars, and falling behind rivals like Mercedes and Tesla in the process. Monday, it said it was about to get a whole lot more serious.

The top-line news is probably that BMW says it will make an electric 5 Series and 7 Series, in addition to an electric X1.

From Reuters:

Starting next year, BMW said it will offer five fully-electric cars: the BMW i3, the MINI Cooper SE, the BMW iX3, the BMW iNEXT and the BMW i4. In total BMW will have 25 electrified models on the roads by 2023, half of them fully electric.

BMW said it will also offer a fully electric 5-series, but Chief Executive Oliver Zipse declined to give a launch date.

BMW’s release on the matter has a bit more detail — what stands out here is BMW refusing to cede ground just yet on the matter of giving up internal combustion engines in certain models entirely.

Another milestone will be the upcoming generation of the BMW 7 Series. The BMW brand flagship will be available with four different drive technologies: with a highly efficient diesel or petrol engine with 48-volt technology, as an electrified plug-in hybrid and, for the first time, as a fully-electric BEV model. The company will have 25 electrified models on the roads by 2023 – half of them fully electric.

In addition to the BMW 7 Series, comprehensive electrification will be rolled out throughout the model line-up: Further examples of the “Power of Choice” will be the high-volume BMW X1 and BMW 5 Series, which will also be available in the future with all four drive train variants – fully-electric, plug-in hybrid, diesel and petrol with 48-volt technology.

Details on just what markets are getting what weren’t released, but you can expect that Europe will be getting the fully-electric cars first, as aggressive new emissions regulations there kick in this year. Which makes today’s announcements not all that surprising in retrospect — BMW was gonna have to do this sooner or later — but still kind of weird, since BMW burst out of the gate with the i3 and i8 way back in 2013 and then just kind of … stopped.

More interesting will be the sales numbers on a car like 5 Series or 7 Series when all four variants are on the market. What exactly is the appetite for a fully-electric 5 Series or 7 Series? Also diesel, still?