BMW has been showing off a futuristic BMW Vision Next 100 Concept, but the company won’t unveil their next electric car until 2021. Speaking today at BMW’s 96th Annual General Meeting in Germany, the Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Harald Krüger, said that the i NEXT will be, “our new innovation driver, with autonomous driving, digital connectivity, intelligent lightweight design, a totally new interior and ultimately bringing the next generation of electro-mobility to the road.”
Krugger added that “The discussion about e-mobility is an emotional one, but the decisive factor is that we move things forward. I am certain that government measures will prove effective. It is always better to make a decision than to wait – and the purchase incentive will directly benefit customers. There was never any doubt that we would participate. Such a participation by the industry is unique worldwide. After all, the only way to make progress is by manufacturers, customers, lawmakers and society all working together.”
The new model is the centerpiece of BMW’s effort to defend its position in the luxury-car market as consumers’ preferences are changing and shifting towards electric and self-driving automobiles. BMW is responding to pressure from Tesla and traditional rivals like Mercedes as well as the potential iCar by Apple.
Investors are questioning BMW’s strategy of waiting years to expand its electric-car lineup and fight Tesla on driving range after pioneering the mass-market production of carbon fiber for the chassis for the i3 and i8.
“Can you afford to wait until 2021 to unveil the BMW iNext and still be competitive?” Daniela Bergdolt, vice chair of German shareholder protection association DSW, asked Krueger at the meeting. “I sense you used to be early when it comes to e-mobility, and now there’s a sense you’re somewhat discouraged.”
In the mean time, BMW is updating the current line-up with the i3 getting a 50-percent electric range boost and the BMW i8 Roadster in 2018.