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BMW moves up rollout of NEVs in wake of tightened emissions regulations

Updated: 2019-07-01 10:59
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BMW exhibits its new energy vehicle model BMW i8 at the Shanghai auto show in April. [Photo by Zhang Dandan/China Daily]

MUNICH, Germany - German high-end carmaker BMW said Tuesday it would accelerate plans to introduce new electric models, as the whole industry comes under pressure to meet strict emissions regulations.

The Munich-based manufacturer will offer 25 electric vehicles in 2023, "two years earlier than originally planned," said Chief Executive Harald Krueger.

He added the company would target annual sales growth in the segment of 30 percent between 2020 and 2025.

Of the new models, more than half will be all-electric. The remainder will be hybrids, BMW said.

The change in plans "is not impacting in a negative way our profit and loss outlook", said financial director Nicolas Peter, since the company "can delay maybe the investment into one or the other combustion engine-related topic".

Peter added that "growing demand" for electric technology in several key markets, like California and Britain, has helped make the case for the switch.

Tuesday's announcement does not change the already-set launch dates for a string of new all-electric models: the Mini, iX3 and iNext SUVs and i4 sedan, all slated to hit dealerships by 2021.

BMW took an early lead in battery-powered driving with its i3, released in 2013.

But it's no longer the market leader in the technology, which is indispensable for carmakers to meet the European Union's tough new carbon dioxide emissions rules set to take effect in 2020.

Germany's flagship industry as a whole is seen as lagging behind foreign competitors like California's Tesla and China's producers.

In the first five months of 2019, BMW sold 48,000 electric vehicles, up two percent on the same period in 2018.

But that number made up just five percent of the group's total unit sales of more than one 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 carmakers' 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 - a "win-win situation", finance chief Peter said. Meanwhile, manufacturers know electric cars will only find receptive buyers if the charging infrastructure is in place to support them. They pressed 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 between seven and 10 million electric vehicles on German roads, the VDA industry federation told news agency DPA. BMW research chief Klaus Froehlich called it a "constructive" meeting, although environmental NGOs called it a gathering "without results".

Mammoth Volkswagen has also jumped feet-first into an ambitious electric strategy, planning 70 new models by 2028.


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