BMW M boss says electric M cars are inevitable

BMW M | January 11th, 2017 by 25
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According to the M boss, Frank Van Meel, future electric M cars are “unavoidable.” In an interview with AutoExpress, Van Meel said the question is …

According to the M boss, Frank Van Meel, future electric M cars are “unavoidable.” In an interview with AutoExpress, Van Meel said the question is not whether electrification will be part of M, but rather when.

“It will happen, but the question is when is that going to happen,” Van Meel told AutoExpress. Currently we still have a power to weight issue with electrification which makes that difficult to fit into a motorsports philosophy.”

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But before we get to a fully electric drivetrain in an M3 or M5, Van Meel says an intermediate step is necessary. To help bridge the gap between the M Division’s current range of vehicles and a fully electric model, hybrid powertrains will be first introduced to the M lineup.

The priority of a hybrid M car will be to increase performance, rather than fuel efficiency.

“We already see the stop/start feature coming to M vehicles and the next step is electrification. At the end it will also be pure electric, but it’s going to take some time,” Meel added. “Of course we are in close contact with the Project i group looking into next generation of cell technologies, electric motors, weight and cooling systems to figure when is the right time to make the next step.”

The next question was inevitable as well: Will BMW build an i8 M?

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“That wouldn’t make sense,” Meel told Auto Express. “It’s two different directions. M is about uncompromised motorsport, whereas Project i looks into the future and is uncompromised efficiency.”

25 responses to “BMW M boss says electric M cars are inevitable”

  1. Chris Llana says:

    The i8 is “uncompromised efficiency”? Huh? Can’t have both performance and efficiency?

  2. Fritz says:

    Wouldn’t a hybrid already be possible? Or is weight still an issue?

  3. Tommolog says:

    The good news is it doesn’t mean a departure from performance. Electric motors can outperform ICE if done properly. I’m sure an electric M will be as exhilarating a driving experience as their gasoline cousins – and probably even faster.

    • Kaisuke971 says:

      They just need to find an efficient weight to reduce the weight as well as perfect torque vectoring and all wheel steering, then the cars will be on point with an electric powertrain.

  4. Chris Llana says:

    BMW Blog’s nearby story on the Mercedes-AMG Project One says “Mercedes-AMG claims that this powertrain will not only be unbelievably
    powerful but that it will also be the most efficient hypercar powertrain
    in the world.” If AMG is doing it, shouldn’t M also be able to do it?

    The Porsche 918 hybrid (no performance slouch) gets 67 MPGe in electric mode. If Porsche can do it . . .

    • guest says:

      The prices of the 918 & other hybrid supercars are so high that they’ll never be volume product, whereas I actually see M’s & i8’s on the street, why put them out of reach? Is a hyper car any more desirable than a hyper child?

      • Chris Llana says:

        You’re right, but performance electrics don’t have to have the prices of low-volume supercars (those pricey cars just prove you can make a hybrid/EV that isn’t overweight). The i8 and i3 are already made of carbon fiber and aluminum, so it proves electric performance and efficiency can be affordable. With battery performance rapidly going up and costs down, BMW could make an “affordable” more-electric M version of the i8 if it really wanted to. They just don’t want to go there.

        • guest says:

          I think they’re talking an i8 performance boost, plus an all electric version, I wonder what #’s they might produce? Would be great if they could compete with supercars at without a 7 figure pricetag.

  5. Jackson says:

    wasn’t the “Efficient Dynamics” catch-cry supposed to be about performance and efficiency?
    The i8 M would be a great car for BMW to build

  6. Dailybimmer says:

    Batteries are only good for Vibrator. No such things in BMW M cars please.

  7. Chris Llana says:

    The 2017 Acura NSX hybrid won its class (Time Attack 2) in the challenging 156-turn Pike’s Peak Hill Climb last summer, finishing 20th overall. But an all-electric 4-motor experimental version of the NSX was substantially faster up the mountain, finishing 3rd overall! Speed and handling — the whole package. If Acura can do it, shouldn’t M also be able to?

    • Chris Llana says:

      The only BMW to run at Pike’s Peak last year was a 1987 full-race turbo E30 (I assume considerably lighter than current M cars). It finished a quite respectable 13th overall —10 minutes 13 sec, but still more than a minute slower than the all-electric NSX. Here’s a spectacular video of the BMW’s run up the mountain:

    • Matt Stokes says:

      The 4 motor “NSX” really was only NSX by name, and not at all a version of the road car. Linking the performance of that car to what Honda manage with the road car NSX is like linking the performance of Sebastien Loeb’s record setting 208 T16 to a road going Peugeot 208.

      • Chris Llana says:

        Yes, it was called an NSX “concept.” Same body, different drivetrain. The point was that the actual $157,000 NSX “supercar” finished the race 20th overall, while the all-electric NSX concept finished in third place overall. I was not trying to link their performance, but rather to compare the superior performance of the all-electric “NSX” to the already high performance of the stock hybrid NSX (w. 3 electric motors + ICE).

        BEVs are pretty simple; it’s easy to up the performance. Electric drivetrains are not nearly as complex as ICE drivetrains (especially M ICE). For the 2015 Pike’s Peak race, Honda built a 4-motor version of the CR-Z that won its class. The 4-motor NSX “concept” is a bigger version with three times the power. Honda could easily build a production 4-motor “NSX,” or some other comparable high-performance BEV, when its senior management decides to start mass-producing EVs — they’ve done their homework, built and successfully raced the prototypes.

        BMW M could almost certainly get the same performance improvement with an all-electric i8 over the standard hybrid i8. Look at what Tesla has been able to do by adding a second stronger motor. BMW M could replace the rear i8 ICE with two electric motors and get a massive performance increase. It could easily outperform all the conventional ICE M cars, but perhaps that explains BMW’s reluctance to embrace M electric. Electric is a disruptive technology.

  8. Mateo says:

    No surprise here.
    ///M switched to Turbos when everybody did, soon everyone will do electric sports cars so BMW will follow.
    don´t see anything bad with that. Real ///M is dead since last NA V8 E93 M3.
    now is turbo era
    soon hybrid era
    and electric era

    car will just get faster and better but i am sure no one can argue with this – nothing beats NA high-revving engine in front, manual gearbox in middle and RWD at the back (of course :) ) for driving pleasure.
    i am not saying this for BMW´s, i drove Mustang 5.0 V8 it was a joy!

    • Mateo says:

      *i am not saying this ONLY for BMW´s…

    • guest says:

      Why must BMW live in the past? People criticized the V8, now it’s the benchmark so they can complain about turbos (which, by the way, BMW didn’t follow, they led, with the 2002 Turbo over 40 yrs. ago, just as i Division has thousands of production units on the road already, so not following with electric, either). Enjoy your Mustang.

      • Mateo says:

        No BMW must no live in the past. And he´s not, BMW always goes forward and makes new benchmarks : iDrive, as you said 2002 Turbo, iDivision!!!
        I am just saying that it is ok with electric M cars, but nothing is good like old M cars for PURE JOY of a car. that is just me ;)

    • Kaisuke971 says:

      The M3 F80 was the first one of the segment to go turbocharged and the M5 switched before the Merc which even have to get a mid-life engine change since it wasn’t competitive (RS6 has always been turbocharged).

  9. Khumo says:

    Surely if a “hybrid M” makes sense then an i8M should too.

  10. CDspeed says:

    It can be done, look at the Rimac Concept_One.

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