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Paris show: BMW i more than just EVs
Head of BMW i talks up future plans and slams slow Audi, Mercedes
12 Oct 2018
By TIM NICHOLSON in PARIS
THE head of BMW i Robert Irlinger says the sub-brand has a future beyond vehicle electrification and believes that BMW is well ahead if its German rivals when it comes to electro-mobility.
Speaking with Australian journalists at last week’s Paris motor show, Dr Irlinger said the i brand had grown since the development and launch of the i3 city hatch and i8 sportscar, but added that I was “not only about electrification”.
He said the role of i was to bring new technologies to the wider BMW brand, including electrified powertrains, as well as sustainable materials, connected services, and autonomous driving systems.
“It is not only that BMW i is electrified, BMW i is new fields of technology and mobility,” Dr Irlinger said.
“What we see is that customers now want not only two cars like i3 and i8, they want to see electrification in BMWs they are used to. And that is the reason we changed our strategy. Now electrification is the new normal and the electrification has to be in cars you know out of the BMW portfolio.”
Dr Irlinger said the i team were working on projects and technologies beyond electrification, and that would be evident in the upcoming iNext production car in 2021.
“There will always be new technology which will be done by BMW i. So for example now … the iNext, it is maybe more about autonomous driving than electro-mobility. And maybe there is the next technology after autonomous driving so maybe … i will be about other topics.
“But it might be possible that some of the technologies that we introduced with the first i (are not) branded as i in the future. Because we say this is the new normal.
“The next very specific i car (iNext) that shows all of the technology we are able to bring to customers at BMW Group in 2021. This will not be just a derivative of an existing one, everything is new in that car.”
Dr Iringer denied that BMW had slowed the pace of its electrified vehicle rollout and allowed Audi and Mercedes-Benz to catch up with their respective e-tron and EQC offerings.
“No, what I could accept is if you look at Tesla. Because Tesla is really now producing electrified cars in huge numbers. But even last year we sold more electrified cars … (than) Tesla.
“If you compare with Audi and Mercedes, I don’t see that they sold cars until now. So Audi, electrified? Nothing. Daimler, you could try to buy one at the moment but you won’t get one.
“They now did the step we did already five years ago. Now they are doing electrified cars. They are good, nice cars. But we are already preparing the next step, because we think the next step is just more (than) about electrifying cars, it is the combination of electric, autonomous driving, connectivity and sharing things. The iNext will show the next step.”
Dr Irlinger added that BMW outsells most of its competitors when it comes to electrified vehicles and that it would sell even more in the coming years.
“If you look at the i brand, the share we have with BMW i in the electrified market, I think it is three times higher than combined Audi, Mercedes, Volvo together.
“Even from next year there will be BMW iX3 … I don’t think there is a problem for our company not being the leader.
“Because in terms of sales this year we will sell 140,000 electrified cars. Next year even more.”
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