26 Jun 19

BMW plays all its ACES, bets big on plug-in hybrids

EV sales need to increase by 30% per year – BMW’s digital services to make e-life better - Level 3 autonomy by 2021

During a press event in Munich last Tuesday, BMW Group revealed 6 world premieres as well as its development strategy, which revolves around what they call ACES – autonomous, connected, electric and services – and includes an accelerated electrification plan.

Not by 2025, as initially planned, but already by 2023 will the German premium carmaker have 25 electrified models in its portfolio, more than half of which will be electric.

“We expect to see a steep growth curve towards 2025: Sales of our electrified vehicles should increase by an average of 30% every year”, said BMW Group CEO Harald Krueger at the NextGen press event, which was set up to demonstrate the OEM’s leading position in the shift towards tomorrow’s mobility.

Maximising the “e”

In the next few years, especially plug-in hybrid models will be playing a key part in reducing the group’s CO2 emissions. From the 2 Series all the way to the 7 Series, they all get an electrically assisted ICE insofar as they don’t already have one. Even the all-new 1 Series (featuring in the video below) could get an eDrive derivative now that it has switched to the platform already in use by Mini, the X1, X2 and the 2 Active/Gran Tourer.  

Interestingly, the brand-new 3 Series Touring (also featuring in the video below as a world premiere in Munich), will equally be getting a 330e model – but not before the summer of 2020. The same goes for the popular X1, which just has been facelifted. Why so late? BMW, like any other European OEM, is struggling to get its hands on sufficient battery cells today.

Making the link with the Connected part of the ACES acronym, BMW announced that from 2020 onwards, all its plug-in hybrid models will receive the so-called eDrive Zones function. In cities that establish “green zones” solely for emission-free driving, geofencing technology will be able to recognise these automatically. When the vehicle enters such a zones, it will automatically switch to pure electric driving, thereby receiving the same access rights as fully-electric vehicles.

Speaking of which, the audience in Munich also caught a glimpse of the Mini-E, which will be revealed on July 8 in Rotterdam. The next big e-newcomer will be the iX3, BMW's answer to the Mercedes EQC.



Digital charging services for EVs

Convincing people to switch to an EV is not only about range, it is also a matter of making electric life easier. With BMW’s charging services, customers can check the probable availability of a specific station along the selected route before they begin their journey. Once they are within 20 minutes’ drive of the intended charging station, they can reserve a space directly from their car.

And if that car happens to be a BMW plug-in hybrid, they will additionally earn iMiles for any sections of electric driving recorded within the BMW eDrive Zones. These can then be exchanged for extra charging credit at all ChargeNow stations.

Level 3 autonomous by 2021

In an interesting session about autonomous driving, a spokesperson told us that in 2021, BMW will launch a level 3 autonomous vehicle in the shape of the all-electric iNext.

“It will be able to travel on motorways at speeds of up to 130kph without the driver needing to intervene. Even roadworks won’t be a problem. You can sit back and relax or do some work until you take the exit. There is a transition time of minimum 10 seconds between autonomous and manual, which should be enough to prepare to take back control over the vehicle,” he said.

Like any other OEM that is investing in autonomous driving, safety is the top priority. Making sure the car recognises the situation is one thing, having it respond safely when it doesn’t is another.



Hey BMW, what’s next?

The company showed three concept cars in Munich (see video above) that embody “sheer driving pleasure” in tomorrow’s world of connected, autonomous and electric driving.

In the future, BMW drivers will be able to choose whether they want to be driven autonomously (in Ease Mode) or drive themselves (in Boost Mode). Ease and Boost moments form the basis for the design of every future BMW model. In a nutshell, the concept is: “Ease your Life – Boost your Moment.”

Another showstopper in Munich was the Skai concept, designed by the Californian BMW Designworks branch. There are no concrete production plans yet, but the drone taxi is preparing for its maiden test flight in Boston, as the company’s president Holger Hampf explained.

If there is anything the NextGen event demonstrated, it’s that the BMW Group is not waiting for the mobility paradigm shift to happen. It’s on top of it.

Picture & video copyright: Dieter Quartier/Nexus Communication, 2019

Related article: Fleet Europe's exclusive interview with Dr. Robert Irlinger about BMW Group's mid-term electrification strategy.


Authored by: Dieter Quartier