The BMW M division is winding down production of combustion-only powered vehicles and gearing up to electrify its performance models. Frank van Meel leads this team and offers some hints about the electrified future in an interview with Autocar.
"I would love to see electrified Ms in the future – hybrid and pure-electric, but if we bring them, they will be so groundbreaking that you will say: ‘This is crazy, I didn’t see that coming,’" he said.
Gallery: 2023 BMW M3 Edition 50 Jahre BMW M
We know that electrified BMWs are coming from the M division. The upcoming XM uses a hybrid-assisted twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8, and the next-gen M5 appears to use a plug-in-hybrid version of this powertrain.
The next-gen 3 Series will arrive in 2025 as a full EV riding on BMW's Neue Klasse platform. Van Meel remains vague about the prospect of a new M3. "Maybe it will go electric – but if it does, it will always be an M3. Whatever the powertrain, you should always be able to drive our cars and know they are M cars," he said.
Van Meel indicates that reducing weight would be a major part of creating an electric M3. "But electric cars do have some advantages. You can take some of the sound insulation out, for instance, and having the weight of the battery so low is interesting for engineers," he said.
The electric 3 Series will reportedly go by the internal designation NK1. BMW is developing the electric motors in-house with plans to offer a single one powering the rear wheels or a pair turning both axles. The system can reportedly fast charge at 350 kilowatts and support a total range of over 435 miles (700 kilometres). The platform allegedly uses a mix of aluminium and a carbon fibre cage to keep the weight down.
The Neue Klasse platform will also underpin an electric crossover. By 2030, BMW estimates half of its sales could be from vehicles using these underpinnings.