The automotive landscape has changed a lot since BMW first started manufacturing vehicles. BMW knows it – at least if their wild new design language and rapid adoption of electrification is any indication. Change is clearly vital to – if not heavily ingrained in – the automaker’s DNA. And that got me thinking – could a BMW EV pickup be closer than we think? With the electric automotive event horizon rapidly encroaching, I think it may be more imminent than ever.
A BMW EV Pickup Fits Into an Emerging Market
The strongest case anyone needs to do anything in business is money. While the pickup truck market has always been solid in the United States, it admittedly makes less sense on the global stage. However, that’s changed drastically over the last few years. The success of vehicles like the Rivian R1T, Ford Lightning, and GMC Hummer EV has cemented the EV pickup segment as a large and profitable one. Need proof? A Silverado EV and the funky Canoo pickup truck are all planned to show up to the party in 2023, and a Tesla Cybertruck may, against all odds, eventually find itself in production.
Finally, however improbable, it’s not unrealistic to suppose the existence of an EV Mercedes X-Class-derived pickup truck somewhere in that fabled Mercedes-Benz vault. Though the ill-fated X-Class is now out of production, in September of 2022, Mercedes partnered with Rivian to aid in producing electric vans. Who knows what kind of pillow talk is going on there? Probably nothing, right? Either way, the market has never been more ready for a BMW pickup truck, especially an electric-powered one.
A BMW EV Pickup Isn’t a New Idea
Any long-time BMW fan will probably immediately recall the suspiciously production-ready-looking BMW X7 pickup that made its rounds on the internet in 2019. And there’s the famous E30 M3 pickup truck that ran around BMW HQ for decades before being finally retired. Not to mention the E92 pickup April Fools joke or the fact that new render pops up once or twice a year somewhere on the internet.
The concept has already become something familiar to many people – it’s not as alien a thought as it was, say, five or six years ago. Especially with the growing relevance of independent OEMs that aren’t steeped in pickup tradition – and succeeding. Say what you want, but that X7 pickup was no accident – it was a look into the future. You don’t build a production-ready, road-legal pickup for fun.
Restrictions Have Evaporated
One of the most commonly-spouted rejections that BMW’s C-Suite offers the general public on the idea of a BMW pickup truck is against BMW’s ethos. In 2015, Ludwig Willisch (then CEO of BMW North America) stated that the brand “…is about driving, not transporting others.” Interestingly, this was before the debut of the three-row X5 and the current X7, and surely coincidentally, his 2017 retirement.
And then we have Klaus Frolich’s comments in 2018, echoing into eternity: “For us, the market segment is too small because we are at the higher price level for pickups.” Sheesh, imagine being that wrong only four years and one pandemic ago – as Rivian vehicles routinely and comfortably auction their way into the six-figure range.
Both statements are now inaccurate as BMW continues to produce vehicles designed very much to “transport others.” Furthermore, the luxury pickup segment has exploded into an unexpected profit pool – from burgeoning OEMs like Rivian to Ford’s F-150 Lightning.
I’ll finish with this. In May of 2015, Carsales.au reported that Hendrik von Kuenheim said the following regarding parallels between a BMW ute and the first-ever BMW X5: “We said, ‘when we do this car, it needs to drive like a BMW,’ and the first-generation E53 X5 was a brilliant car and we put all the BMW genes in that.” Now, call me crazy, but I believe that with BMW’s current “skateboard” EV tech, extensive use of carbon fiber and some clever usage of space and weight, they could probably deliver something that drives as well – if not many magnitudes better – than a vehicle notoriously received as lukewarm by almost everyone that drove it.
We believe in you. Bring on the utes.