Just recently BMW’s Head of R&D Klaus Frohlich dropped a bit of a bombshell by claiming European customers don’t want electric cars. It sent the internet into a bit of a frenzy, with journalists, enthusiasts and critics arguing about whether or not he’s right. However, he’s now revealed some new bits of information that will continue to create more headlines. For instance, Frohlich claims that the BMW i3 and i8 could end with this generation and that the Vision M NEXT will be a proper M car.
“M is fast and furious and fun and that always works, but there is no direct successor for the i3 and no direct successor for the i8,” he told Car Sales. When asked about why the BMW i3 and i8 might not continue, Frohlich said “The i3 and the i8 were solitary cars with solitary concepts. The first battery pack in the i3 was only 22kWh.”
However, Frohlich understands the need for electrification in performance cars and says that the M Division will be moving in that direction. Though, to start off, electrification will be used to aid smaller displacement internal combustion engines. “The M cars in the 2020s will get powertrains with electric support mainly for driving performance reasons.” he said. “From 2022 onwards they will have hundreds of Newton/metres to give you V8 torque within two milliseconds.”
A lot of fans, including myself, were wondering why the Vision M NEXT concept was given a hybrid powertrain, rather than something fully electric. Apparently, the reason behind that decision was weight. To give a performance car the correct battery density for both impressive performance and long enough range, it would be too heavy for a proper M car. “If you do a pure electric sports car you need such a big battery that it would be a 2.1 or 2.2-tonne sports car to get to 600hp.” he said. “And these 2.1-2.2 tonne cars don’t behave well on the Nürburgring. Being fast is not only about longitudinal acceleration. That part is easy.”
Though, that will change as battery tech gets better and lighter. “From 2030 onward, when the energy density is high enough, we could do it. It’s not a priority [at the moment] because M is about performance, not technology.” said Frohlich.
So the BMW Vision M NEXT is the future of performance and electrification, with cars like the BMW i3 and BMW i8 going the way of the Dodo. BMW i will continue to develop cars but they will be more mainstream, high-tech luxury cars. The performance side of electrification will be handled by BMW M and the M NEXT is the vision for the near future.