What Does The Future Hold For BMW M?

Interesting | February 16th, 2017 by 35
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  In 2016, BMW sold nearly 68,000 “M” models- around 37,500 true-bred M cars and approximately 30,400 M Performance cars (see: M235i and X6 M …


In 2016, BMW sold nearly 68,000 “M” models- around 37,500 true-bred M cars and approximately 30,400 M Performance cars (see: M235i and X6 M 50d).

The number is far less than the 99,235 cars sold by rival, Mercedes-AMG, but it represents a nine percent growth over 2015 and is the best-ever figure posted by BMW’s performance division.

With new arrivals and improved engineering, sales are only expected to increase in the coming years and BMWBLOG takes a look at what the short- to mid-term future holds for the M GmbH.

BMW F90 M5 Final Rendering 750x473

Rendering F90 M5

More Models

The F90 M5 is due later this this year. Apart form that, a range of hardcore CS models are expected, starting with the M4 CS and the M2 CS. Meanwhile, the media is also talking about a X3 M, M8 and X7 M and more special-editions, similar to the M4 GTS, could be made as well.

BMW M2 CS Nurburgring 1 750x360

However, unlike Mercedes, BMW won’t make too many M models. That said, we can’t pinpoint which cars won’t get a M variant, although the German automaker has ruled out making a M3 Touring (as there’s no demand for such cars outside Europe) and a M7 (will be too extreme for the 7er clientele). And any FWD M car.  


While electrification is ‘inevitable’ for BMW M, more powertrain advancements need to take place before they can can adopt the technology. Right now, there are some challenges.     

For instance, in case of the the hybrids, the current set of batteries and associated components add too much weight to the car, negatively affecting the the power-to-weight ratio and consequently, the handling. On the other hand, a pure electric set-up, BMW M CEO, Frank van Meel, said in June 2016, can not “keep up performance for more than five minutes before degrading because of temperature reasons”.

Autonomous Tech

M cars will get automated functions as BMW believes that it will be useful to the drivers when they don’t feel like driving. For instance: in heavy traffic.

Enthusiasts may not like that but autonomous tech is BMW’s main focus nowadays- even ahead of e-mobility. Hence, there’s no reason for the German automaker to not provide it to one of its most important and highest spending set of customers. Whether they use it will be up to them- after all, the steering wheel isn’t going anywhere.

According to BMW’s product expert, Sven Arens, 700 Nm is the maximum amount of torque they can give to a RWD car. “For a reasonable saloon car, the cut off is 700 Nm of torque on two driven wheels,” he told Australian publication GoAuto last year. “If we are stepping up to 600 HP, which means we are going to go beyond the 700 Nm of torque, only if you would use a [Michelin Pilot Sport] Cup 2 tire would you be able to transfer that to the ground. But then it means your customer would come in every 5,000 km for new tires.”

Thus, starting with the new M5 (which will have around 600 HP), in addition to the SUV models, every M that generates 600 HP/700 Nm and more will most likely get a rear-biased AWD configuration. Just as in the M5, though, we are hoping that the drivers will be able to switch to RWD with the push of a button.

Manual Gearbox

The F90 M5 and the M6 successor won’t get a manual gearbox. But that decision was made after the demand for stick-shift in the two cars fell to “nearly zero percent”. So, in our opinion, the M2, M3 and M4 will continue to have the manual transmission in the foreseeable future (that includes their next generations), considering it’s opted by 15 to 20 percent of the present owners.

35 responses to “What Does The Future Hold For BMW M?”

  1. guest says:

    In today’s comparison of the M3, The Independent says M stands for Monster.

  2. Chris Llana says:

    Frank van Meel’s claim that electric cars cannot “keep up performance for more than five minutes before degrading because of temperature reasons” is simply not true. Why doesn’t he just say he isn’t interested in making an electric M car, or that he doesn’t know how. Full-electrics run up Pike’s Peak faster than their ICE competitors, hitting over 150 mph, going around 156 turns, and gaining almost a mile in altitude. Heat is not a problem. The Formula E race cars go flat out until the battery runs out; they can certainly keep up performance. Other EVs have run the Nürburgring and other similar courses without overheating. Rimac’s Concept One? It goes and goes without any performance degradation. It’s van Meel’s bugaboo.

    And what of hybrids? Hinders performance? Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, Porsche 918, and now the new Aston Martin AM-RB 001, all beg to differ. BMW? Clinging to the past.

    • Surya Solanki says:

      1. He was talking about EVs not hybrids. LaF, P1 are hypercars, how can you possible expect the same tech to be there in say, an M3? They can’t make carbon-fibre tub, etc.

      2. It’s not just about having the tech, but making sure it’s available at a reasonable price. How many EVs have actually run around N’ring? Rimac hasn’t posted any time yet. NextEV Nio EP9 is the fastest EV around N’ring but that too suffered from overheating. And it’s certainly not a $100,000 car. Tesla, for all its straight line-speed is atrocious around the track and of course, suffers from overheating. Do you know of any EV, which can come at a price of the current M cars and beat them around a track?

      • Chris Llana says:

        If you read the story again, you will see that he talks about both hybrids and full-electrics. There was no mention of cost being the issue. The point I was making about hybrid supercars was to counter his claim: “in case of the the hybrids, the current
        set of batteries and associated components add too much weight to the
        car, negatively affecting the the power-to-weight ratio and
        consequently, the handling.” Clearly that statement is specious. Electric motors are small and light, and add lots of torque. Hybrids use small batteries that add very little weight, and by the way, have you noticed how porky M cars have become in recent years?

        M cars are not race cars. The vast majority never see a track. They are performance street cars, and the cost of building a performance street EV would not be prohibitive. They are much simpler than ICE cars.

        It’s true that street EVs, including Teslas, will overheat if they are run flat out for long periods, but they were not designed as track cars. They’re street cars; it would make no sense to put a race-car cooling system in a street EV. Clearly it can be done if you have that requirement. The cooling challenge for ICE cars is MUCH greater than for EVs, and yet people have managed to keep ICE cool. People have also managed to engineer cooling systems for performance/race EVs. Do M cars use the same radiators and water pumps as the ones they put in lesser BMWs? Cooling systems are not budget-breakers. If the M people are any good, they could engineer a BEV cooling system that met M performance requirements — not really a big challenge.

        • manuelf says:

          What are you proving here? I dont’t get it? Do you think you are smarter than the ///M engineering team? C’mon… If they come to the conclusion, that tech is at such a level, they are able to come up with a BEV or hybrid, which surpasses an ICE powered vehicle at the given target price point of an M2/M3/Mx, they will do it. That’s all. And since it is NOT acceptable at all that a ///M is slower f.i. in sport auto supertest at Hockenheim and Nürburgring racetrack compared to its predecessor … it will take as long as it takes! If you know it better, than the ///M guys, you should start a car manufacturing company.

          • nordlyst says:

            With all due respect, I think a grown-up person should be able to muster a tiny bit of skepticism when *any* corporation talks about its product strategy. Your assumption that what he said could only be said if he thinks he understands the engineering better than the BMW dude is wide of the mark.

            Consider for a moment the *possibility* that BMW doesn’t want to make electric M cars for commercial reasons. What do you think they would say about the technology in that case? Surely they would allude to some technical reasons why it isn’t the best choice of technology, quite regardless of whether they actually believe this to be the case or not! To think anything else is akin to believing big tobacco would itself start telling us, without being forced to do so, that there are better health choices one can make than smoke cigaretttes.

        • Surya Solanki says:

          1. Price is always an issue. I don’t think I need mention that. In the sense, BMW can make a hybrid M3 that is very light by using carbon fiber but that’s not feasible right now. If price is not an issue, then BMW can make any kind of car they want…

          Also, hybrid set-up does add a lot of weight- eg: in the 3 Series it’s 90 kg without any real performance gain.

          2. Can you explain in detail what you mean by this? How would you counter the cooling issue with EVs?

          3. M are meant to be track cars- whether or not owners take them is their own wish and many do.

          • Chris Llana says:

            BMW sells the carbon-fiber i3 for less than $45k. I suppose in the end, it comes down to the fact that M builds M versions of existing BMW cars, and BMW only has one full electric —the i3 — which perhaps is not an M sort of car.

          • Surya Solanki says:

            Beyond i3 and i8, BMW has said that it will limit use of carbon fibre, otherwise profits will fall. That’s why it’s not even used on the 5er despite the G30 getting basically the same platform as the 7.

            And yes, agreed.

          • Chris Llana says:

            I believe I mentioned a number of electric race cars that have effective cooling systems. The e0 PP100 Pike’s Peak Hill Climb race car produces 1600 hp and 1860 lb-ft of torque and does 0-60 in 2 seconds, without cooling issues. Coolant circuits in the motors and batteries, and of course, radiators. Don’t take my word for it; you are free to do your own research.

            Will be interesting to see how the performance version of Tesla’s Model 3 stacks up against BMW’s M3, on performance and price. We should know more within about a month. People should of course buy what pleases them, whether gas or electric.

          • nordlyst says:

            Hm? Why do you expect Model 3 to be revealed in just a month? The consensus elsewhere on the web seems to be June. As you may be aware Tesla is currently launching their “Project Loveday” marketing stunt, after a ten-year old girl named Loveday suggested on Twitter they’d run a fan competition to make the best Tesla commercial. The winner will be invited to “a Tesla launch event”, the competition ends on May 29th, and the prize must be claimed by June 2nd. Based on this the speculation is that Tesla will use the no-doubt huge attention they’ll get when the production Model 3 is finally revealed to air the fan-made commercials, and therefore that the event will take place sometime after June 2nd (perhaps a week or two to give the winners time to plan and make travel arrangements).

            Temperature is somewhat of a challenge for batteries due to their very narrow thermal window. Li-ion packs must be kept below 65 degrees C and ideally below 45 C. If batteries were as energy dense as gasoline this wouldn’t have caused a problem, but since they are actually bulky and heavy adding a lot of cooling makes the density problem even worse.

            That’s not to say it cannot be done. Formula E exists, after all, and Rimac claims you can go flat out for as long as there’s juice left without degradation. But I still think it is fair to say that temperature management is more of a problem with electric propulsion than with ICE. Obviously this doesn’t apply in a hybrid where the electric motor doesn’t necessarily have to run all the time, but can be used to boost torque and power when the ICE is operating at lower RPMs.

          • Chris Llana says:

            I fully agree that M cars are designed to be driven on the track, and I think owners should take them to the track. Hopefully they will not be driven to their limits on public roads. As you know, BMW also builds true race cars, which are a big step above the street-legal M cars in both performance and price.

          • Surya Solanki says:

            Hard to compare race-car to volume performance cars to be honest. I do get what you are saying- that there are EVs that can do it (e.g.: the EP9 too). But BMW doesn’t have access to that tech (yet) and make it available at an affordable price.

            I don’t think any Model 3 would be able to taken on M3 at track. Let’s see though. Frankly, (correct me if I’m wrong), I haven’t really seen any Tesla owner who takes his car to the track.

    • guest says:

      Why are you ignoring the i8?

      • Chris Llana says:

        Not ignoring the i8. It’s a great car. The M people have already said they are not going to do an M i8. But I’ve read here that a sport i8 is on the works, adopting some of the modifications that the Formula E i8 safety car has, as well as updated batteries.

    • guest says:

      Why do you think BMW have two separate divisions for i & M? There is not a single volume manufacturer doing what you suggest. Pike’s Peak is not the real world. Your prescient optimism diminishes the very real achievements of the brand that is showing the greatest leadership in electrifying their range. Check back in 5 yrs.

      • nordlyst says:

        If you think EVs are held back for *technical* reasons I would like to call you terribly naive!

        There is really only one reason no volume manufacturer is doing EVs in a big way: They don’t want EVs to happen! And it is easy to understand why. The car industry is one where barriers to entry are extremely high. Economics 101 teaches us that high barriers to entry means higher profit margins. In other words, incumbents want to maintain and further increase the barriers to entry, because that increases their expected future profits.

        Most of the barriers to entry relate directly to engine technology. To get an idea of what it takes to have leading technology in this area, consider that Mercedes-Benz is currently spending over 3 billion euros developing one new diesel engine. Many other components in cars are complex, but no car manufacturer actually owns much of the technology in question. Suspension and gearboxes and differentials and electronics and software all comes from an industry of specialist suppliers, and any new entrant to the market can relatively easily buy into this.

        Electric cars are also very complex products that require a lot of expertise in manufacturing. But there is zero doubt that they represent a significant simplification over ICE vehicles. And since they make the engine-related intellectual property worthless they are bad news for incumbents in the car industry.

        At the same time, it is obvious both that there is a high risk of regulatory pressure forcing car makers to reduce the impact of their products, and electric cars are by far the easiest way to do it. Equally obious is that many car buyers are interested in cars that are both more economical and less damaging to the environment.

        Most of the manufacturers today are therefore doing exactly what you ought to expect. They position themselves by starting to develop both the technology and the image needed to succeed selling green cars. But while they speak warmly about how great they think this is at press conferences they simultaneously lobby for relaxed emissions regulations, and reduced incentives for EVs. They also price their EVs so as to make them low volume, which in itself helps to justify the high price, and then head to politicians with the sales figures claiming people do not want to buy these cars!

        But things are changing, and more quickly than many realize. Most of the incumbents have by now started to accept that the writing on the wall is really quite clear, and EVs will happen one way or another. Even if politicians fail to regulate the products, economics will take care of it. The cost of making electric cars is coming down so fast that new entrants to the market is guaranteed, regardless of politics. Literally hundreds of upstarts, most of which will surely fail, but some of which will replace some of today’s incumbents, are already busy developing new products.

        I for one therefore actually believe it when VW says they will launch 30 new BEV models before 2025. And I think Mercedes is serious about the EQ sub-brand. BMW i will also be important for BMW, especially in capturing young people as new customers. Tesla may succeed or fail, but electric cars are sure to beat ICE simply because the technology is far superior. Even today’s EV technology is superior and would beat ICE on cost if EVs were made in the same numbers (which of course they can’t be, yet, because there is nowhere near enough batteries being made).

        Just give it a few short years. It may be 2025 before EVs are the only new cars worth talking about, but it will be clear to everyone already by 2020 which way things are headed. By then, Norway will no longer be the only market where most new cars sold can be plugged into the grid. (This was only recently achieved in Norway, but BEV + PHEV share has been over 30% for years now.)

        • guest says:

          I never said they were being held back, I repeated the FACT that EV tech. is still evolving. i Division is proof of BMW’s commitment, years later there is still no German competition. I think the biggest barrier to date is the artificial OPEC glut, if we were living with 2008 oil prices the acceptance rate would be far greater. It will happen.

    • nordlyst says:

      I agree with you when it comes to hybrids, although I personally find parallel hybrids to be awfully inelegant from an engineering point of view. Building two separate and parallel drivelines to propel a car is a wasteful solution and necessarily more complex than either one driveline by itself, with more parts, more maintenance and so on. It’s a little bit like hand-built mechanical watches of the type seen in stores in Geneva (if not quite as insane) – an impressive but ultimately stupid way to solve the problem at hand…

      It is doubtless true though that electric motors can achieve power to weight ratios that far exceed ICE engines. They also complement ICE perfectly, especially high-revving gasoline engines, with their maximum torque at 0 RPM characteristic.

      Personally I am more interested in how a car behaves on the road than on a track, but it may be the case that the “street cred” associated with actually being an awesome race car is important in selling these expensive toys! I drive an EV, and although it perhaps cannot go flat out for very long I have never actually noticed any power reduction and instead enjoy the instant torque and extremely low fuel costs – and the knowledge that my driving isn’t polluting the air (I drive on hydropower) or using much more energy than necessary (my “tank” capacity is about half a gallon of gasoline in terms of energy).

      I’d love to get an electric BMW M, but will probably have to wait until 2025, not to mention win the lottery between now and then, to see it happen!

  3. Icebreakerr says:

    “The F90 M5 and the M6 successor” so that means there will be an M6?

  4. Pevvex says:

    Let’s home future Mcars will be better then M4 witch is the worst Mcar ever made by mile. I hope new M5 will be amazing otherwise BMW lost the edge to make unique cars.

  5. Dailybimmer says:

    So if the standard M5 will get 600 hp, does this mean there will be a CP version with 620 hp and the M5 CS with approximately 650 hp or more?

    • Surya Solanki says:

      You mean M5 CS? Not sure about it. Although BMW has apparently all names from M1 CS to M8 CS, I doubt how many would be made in the short-term. M2 and M4 CS are confirmed.

  6. Autopal says:

    How about a M350? Hard core 3 series with Xdrive that sits just below the M3? With say 400ish hp, to take on the C450 AMG. Mercedes AMG count the sales of their ’43 models in the sales reported by AMG, and such a car would be a perfect daily driver, especially for those of us that experience 4 months of winter each year.

    • realtrevor says:

      Yeah solution for BMW, rename the 440i co M440i, 340i to M440i, X3 35i to MX35i, X4 35i to MX35i, etc. Then M sales figures will be high.

  7. guest says:

    Given the volume of 4 cyl. AMG Mercedes (are BMW even in that segment?), comparing sales figures seems moot.

  8. Seven23 says:

    Could BMW make another sport car after the 8-Series ?

  9. nordlyst says:

    > On the other hand, a pure electric set-up, BMW M CEO, Frank van Meel, said in June 2016, can not “keep up performance for more than five minutes before degrading because of temperature reasons”.

    This can easily be misunderstood. As most people even mildly aquianted with EVs know, they are vastly more energy efficient than ICE vehicles. Consequently, for any given power level there is far less excess heat to get rid of using an electric driveline.

    For instance, an electric motor is 95% efficient. An ICE is 25% efficient. So where an EV could supply 95 kW of power and produce 5 kW of waste heat, an ICE delivering the same 95 kW of power would produce 285 kW of waste heat!

    The problem is rather that Li-ion batteries do not like getting hot. While the hottest parts of an ICE engine can happily operate at several hundred degrees, an EVs battery pack should be kept under 60 degrees C, and ideally under 45 C (because of regenerative braking; the temperature window for charging is even narrower than that for discharging).

    An electric motor on the other hand can take heat quite well, and its output is in fact thermally limited. In other words even a small electric motor can provide huge power for a short time, as long as the waste heat isn’t enough to cause it to begin melting! When cold, it can in principle produce however much power you desire by simply shortening the time interval. (Of course practical batteries, not to mention inverters, don’t provide infinite power though.)

    Making a battery pack with efficient cooling isn’t particularly difficult, as such, but the problem is rather that batteries are already bulky and heavy even without a lot of cooling, and having enough of it to allow sustained high power operation makes this much worse than it already is.

    It is possible, of course. Just look at Formula E!

    If the recent seeming breakthrough in solid-state batteries turns out to be manufacturable and not suffer from some other show-stopping problems the situation may change. Not only do these batteries promise three times the energy density of the current state of the art, but they also are much less sensitive to temperature. You would therefore get both less need for cooling and more room for it at the same time.

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