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BMW Plans Electric Mini, X3 as Rivals Ramp Up EVs

img1860808761 1475602113290 jpg Original BMW Mini-e electric test vehicle | Manufacturer image

CARS.COM — BMW announced plans to make its first production electric Mini and follow it with an electric X3 SUV as the automaker moves to keep up with rivals’ electric vehicle expansion plans.

Related: Mercedes Unveils First Concept for New EQ Electric Sub-Brand

BMW CEO Harald Krueger told Bloomberg News in an interview that the unspecified Mini model would roll out as soon as 2019 and that the battery X3 would come a year later. Both would be marketed under their respective mainstream brands and not become part of BMW’s electric “i” sub-brand that now has the i3 compact electric and extended-range cars as well as the i8 hybrid sports car. He said that EV versions of other products may follow, depending on demand.

“We’re already well on our way to electrifying the core portfolio, using powertrain technology from BMW ‘i’,” Krueger said in the interview after a board meeting on company strategy.

The news came on the heels of splashy announcements of new electric vehicles from competitors at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, including the Volkswagen I.D. electric-car concept and Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ battery-SUV concept. The companies said each will have 200 miles or more of battery range, are headed to production in roughly the same time frame as the newly announced BMW products, and each will be the first of a lineup of new electrics. GM’s Opel brand also showed its Ampera-e, a European version of the Chevrolet Bolt 238-mile electric due on sale later this year.

Meanwhile, Tesla is making inroads with BMW’s core affluent buyers in the market for luxury electrics and will enter the market for more affordable EVs with the Model 3, for which it already has more than 400,000 deposits from prospective buyers.

Krueger did not provide any details of the new vehicles, such as range or price, but said they will be “competitive” on those fronts with rival products. BMW just upped the range available for the carbon-fiber-bodied i3 by more than 40 percent to 114 miles for 2017 (the 94 ampere-hour battery model starts at $44,595). The i8 is a high-end sports car priced at $141,695 to start. The company also has the plug-in hybrid 330e ($45,095) and 740e ($90,095) sedans; all prices include destination. Krueger said that its battery and plug-in models are on track for 60,000 sales this year.

“Competitors are now in phase one on their electric strategy, while we’re entering phase two,”
he said.

All European makers are under pressure for more such models to help meet significantly tougher emissions rules the by 2021. The Mini was actually BMW’s first venture into an electric test fleet, with the Mini-e unveiled in the U.S. at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show.

 

Photo of Fred Meier
Former D.C. Bureau Chief Fred Meier, who lives every day with Washington gridlock, has an un-American love of small wagons and hatchbacks. Email Fred Meier

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