Just recently, we learned that the previously announced BMW Vision M NEXT supercar is now dead. Due to needing R&D money in other areas more, the M NEXT is just a casualty of the times. This news seemed to upset a good portion of the BMW enthusiasts community, enthusiasts that were hoping for this generation’s BMW M1. However, is it actually bad news? Does BMW actually need another supercar?
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To be honest, I no longer think that it does. Admittedly, the idea of a BMW supercar is a cool one but I’ve seen the light and no longer see it as a necessity. In fact, I don’t think it should climb higher than the very bottom of BMW’s priority list. Why, you might ask? There are several reasons why, so let’s break ’em down.
For starters, BMW isn’t a supercar company. The first supercar to ever wear a Roundel was the BMW M1 and, while admittedly brilliant, had very little BMW in it. The body was designed by Giugiaro, the tubed frame was originally designed by Lamborghini, Marchese built said frame, Giugiaro’s ItalDesign team mated the body to the interior and then the rest of it was shipped off to Baur for final production.
The only thing that was purely BMW was its engine, which was admittedly incredible, but that’s really all BMW made. So it’s not as if the M1 cements BMW as a supercar manufacturer.
The next supercar BMW developed was the i8, which was actually more of a mid-engine hybrid sports car. While it had a mid-engine design and a design from 2114, the i8 never had the performance, nor the capability, of a supercar. In fact, even less expensive sports cars, such as the Porsche 911, Corvette and Jaguar F-Type, were faster and more capable.
The BMW i8 was more of a technical exercise and a flagship model for the i Divison, albeit an impressive one, but it wasn’t the sort car that really put BMW’s name on the map as a maker of supercars.
So the idea that BMW should dump a ton of resources into developing a supercar seems a bit unnecessary, when you consider its history of supercars.
Another reason is the fact that BMW has much better things to spend its money on at the moment. This automotive landscape is incredibly difficult for large legacy automakers. The world is changing rapidly, governments seem to have no idea what the right way forward is but are implementing heavy regulations anyway and customers are pushing for more and more EVs. So massive amounts of development money and resources have to be spent on navigating this very tricky new world.
Even if regulations weren’t so difficult, electric vehicles would still be the way forward. So BMW needs to heavily invest in its electrified future and there are several layers to that. The first is the cars themselves, which need to be far better than what BMW has put out thus far.
The second layer is charging infrastructure, which needs a drastic overhaul and automakers need to work with charging brands to implement new charging technologies and faster charging speeds to help customers make the switch. Autonomous driving also plays a huge factor, as it’s something that all automakers must work toward to create a safe and realistic space for self driving cars.
Lastly, the current car ownership platform is dying, with car-sharing and ride-hailing becoming more and more popular, so car companies must figure that out as well.
All of those aspects of the electrified future are going to cost eye-watering amounts of money. So the idea of dumping millions of dollars into creating a hybrid supercar that won’t make BMW much money, in an era when supercars are more pointless than ever before, seems a bit irresponsible.
Lastly, there are more important cars and projects that BMW should be focusing on, cars that should get the development money BMW was originally going to spend on the Vision M NEXT. For instance, there’s word that the next-gen BMW M5 will be a 1,000 horsepower tri-motor EV with over 400 miles of range.
Cars like that should be the ones to get the lion’s share of BMW’s development budget. For instance, such an electrified M5 would be very, very heavy, so why not take some of that money and invest it into making the car lighter? There are many ways BMW can reinvest its M NEXT budget and all of them are more useful.
Don’t get me wrong, I was excited about the BMW Vision M NEXT. In fact, when I saw it in person at Pebble Beach I was convinced it would be the next great BMW supercar. However, I’ve now realized that the Vision M NEXT is a bit superfluous in times like these.
Hopefully, the development money saved goes on to be used in more important projects and we get better cars for the future.