BMW's i subbrand launched the i3, a full-electric city car with an ultralightweight carbon fiber frame, in 2013. BMW showed that it will continue to push the subbrand to new levels when it previewed the iNext, in September. Automotive News Europe Correspondent Christiaan Hetzner spoke with the head of the subbrand, Robert Irlinger, about BMW's electrification strategy.
A: We have announced four BMW electric models and one Mini; that means there are seven battery-electric models still to come. When you look at the distribution of our volumes across the brands, you can get a rough idea of what the ratio [of BMWs vs. other models in the group] will be. We will try to cover the segments according to customer demands as much as possible.
Could you elaborate? With the iX3, we are going into the compact SUV segment. The i4 is a compact sedan with a coupelike look. The iNext roughly has the dimensions of an X5. These are all volume segments we are entering since we believe demand for electric vehicles is growing, governments will support them and the infrastructure is expanding. We changed our strategy because our customers want us to bring electrification across a broad range of our models.
Is that why BMW has reserved the nameplates i1-i9 and ix1-ix9? Will you need all of them for future models? We need to prepare ourselves for this shift toward electrification. That means getting the architectures ready, but it also means securing the rights to the names. ........