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BMW promises 'revolutionary' i car by 2020

What Next: Celebrating its 100th year, BMW has laid it on the line as it charts its future with electrified vehicles, autonomous driving technologies and digital advances.

Seven electrified models, more M cars on the way for BMW under its Next plan

17 Mar 2016

BMW has promised to usher in the next decade with a revolutionary new electrified i model that “will raise premium individual mobility to previously unknown levels”.

The 100-year-old German luxury car and motorcycle group has also confirmed it was planning an open-top plug-in i8 roadster as part of a seven-model electric and plug-in hybrid i range across the group from 2016.

A plug-in Mini is part of the company's future as detailed by BMW executives in a sweeping outline of its future under a program dubbed Strategy Number One > Next.

Speaking at the BMW AG accounts press conference in Munich overnight, BMW chairman Harald Krueger said BMW intended to set the standard for the auto industry.

“We will lead the BMW Group into a new era, one in which we will transform and shape both individual mobility and the entire sector in a permanent way,” he said.

Earlier this month at a 100th anniversary event, BMW unveiled a concept car, Vision Next 100, that might provide a pointer to the “revolutionary” i car promised by BMW by the end of the decade.

Mr Krueger revealed that BMW was already working on fifth-generation electrified vehicles, even before the fourth generation had been launched.

Apart from electrified vehicles, BMW's plan for its next 100 years calls for leadership in autonomous vehicles, expansion of its M range of high-performance vehicles, new luxury cars in most classes, development of vehicle platforms to suit a variety of powertrains including hydrogen fuel-cell, and embracing vehicle digitalisation in all its forms to make life easy for its customers.

Simplification of vehicle architectures is likely to save the company €100 million ($A149m) in coming years, it says.

Mr Krueger said the i component of the plan, BMW iNext, heralded the next era of mobility.

“This symbol of our technology leadership will demonstrate how we will bring the future of mobility into series production,” he said, adding that BMW i was a driver of innovation and a technological trailblazer for the company.

“The brand develops trendsetting technologies and services, subsequently transferring them to the BMW model range.” BMW revealed it is planning to launch a new all-electric i3 city car with extra battery capacity and longer driving range by the end of this year.

The company did not spell out how it plans to expand its M product range, but added that it also intends to offer more enhanced M Performance models in high-volume segments “with a view to capitalising on the growth and earnings potential of the BMW M brand”.

BMW executives confirmed that its British upper luxury brand Rolls-Royce had started testing its new aluminium space-frame architecture that will underpin all future Rolls-Royce model lines.

“This is the first stage of a development that will see a new generation of Rolls-Royce motor cars become available from early 2018,” it said.

Autonomous vehicle development is being handled with BMW by a team dubbed Project i 2.0, with the goal of cementing BMW as a leader in the field.

“A clear focus will be placed on high-definition digital maps, sensor technology, cloud technology and artificial intelligence – the decisive areas for success in this segment,” it said.

BMW is one of a collective of European companies to have bought into Here maps as part of this drive towards autonomous driving.

On digital advances, BMW said it saw the changes sweeping the world of mobility through digitalisation as “an excellent opportunity to make mobile life simpler, safer and more convenient, thereby inspiring completely new customer groups”.

“In the coming years, the group will focus on broadening its technological expertise, expanding the scope of digital connectivity between people, vehicles and services and actively strengthening sustainable mobility,” it said.

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