While many manufacturers have announced plans to cease the sale of internal combustion-engined vehicles at a set time in the not too distant future, BMW is more reserved in making such a statement. For instance, VW and Audi said they will no longer develop new engines, but update the ones they already have, while BMW’s big rival, Mercedes, has announced 2039 as the year when it will stop ICE sales (although it could happen even sooner than that).
Even one of BMW’s own brands, Mini, has also announced it plans to not have ICE vehicles in its lineup not long after 2030. Granted, Mini makes smaller cars and a smaller selection of models, so the transition won’t be as difficult as it would be for BMW as a whole. With that being said, BMW has not actually announced a specific year when it wants to ditch ICE completely.
What the Bavarian automaker has officially stated is that it wants half the cars it sells around the world to be fully-electric by 2030. It plans to have more than ten fully-electric models on sale by 2023, although we’ll have to wait and see if all of them will be available in all markets (the iX3, the electric version of the X3, won’t be available in the United States, for instance).
Gallery: BMW iX3 Premier Edition
And even though BMW has announced its commitment to shift to EVs as soon as it can, the fact that two of its new EVs (the i4 and the iX3) are simply electric versions of existing petrol-burning models could be a telling detail. Sure, it has the iX electric SUV, and that will be a global vehicle, but if you compare BMW’s effort to electrify its range with Mercedes’, it’s clear the latter is investing more.
Mercedes will have an entire range of EQ-badged models parallel to its main range, only the smallest of which actually share their underpinnings with existing petrol-powered models (the EQA and the EQB). The manufacturer’s EQE and EQS models (each available as either saloon/hatch or SUV) are designed from the ground up as electric vehicles.
But BMW has jumped on that train too, only a bit later than Mercedes. It too plans to launch an all-new generation of electric vehicles, conceived from the onset to not accommodate an engine any more. These will be part of what the automaker calls Neue Klasse (New Class) - a new Neue Klasse after the range of models launched in the 1960s that shaped BMW into the successful company we know today.
Gallery: 2022 BMW i4
What is perhaps a bit odd is BMW launched a very advanced ground-up EV in 2014, the i3, and that has proven to be a big hit, in spite of its tall, boxy look. It even created a bespoke plug-in hybrid sports car with supercar looks, the i8, but both these models are going to be discontinued, not followed by new generations.
Meanwhile, the manufacturer has launched the iX3 and the i4 and we’re also expecting it to add a fully-electric version of the 3 Series sedan to its lineup in a few years’ time. BMW is also investing in hydrogen fuel-cell tech, thus diverting a portion of its budget (that could have been used to further EVs).
BMW also announced that it predicts 85 percent of the vehicles it will sell in 2030 will still have some kind of internal combustion engine providing power. But by that time, the automaker will have already rolled out most of its Neue Klasse series of models, which will surely ride on a bespoke EV platform (or platforms). In other words, there’s a good chance BMW will still be selling some even diesel-powered models close to the year 2040, if it stands by the plans it has announced thus far (and isn’t forced to change course by some governing body).