The automotive industry is preparing for the coming decade to be a breakthrough period for electric cars, with the number of electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) reaching 2.2 million units or 2.5 per cent of the global vehicle market1. With a younger, more environmentally aware audience growing up to constant reminders of our deteriorating ecosystem, more sustainable solutions look to be more appealing in the coming future. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) in its 2019 Electric Vehicle Outlook report, the total EV and PHEV vehicles is expected to soar to 548 million by 2040, or about 32% of the world’s passenger vehicles2.
BMWi was founded as a sub brand to embark on a new journey of sustainable mobility, through the development of innovative low and emission-free vehicles. Since 2011, BMW has released two electric vehicles in the BMW i3 and the BMW i8, as well as eight PHEV cars under its iPerformance designation, delivering over a half a million electrified vehicles to customers worldwide3.
At the BMW Group level, electrification is one of the central pillars of BMW’s corporate strategy, dubbed NUMBER ONE > NEXT, where an exciting new future awaits, announcing that all model series are now able to be electrified, either with a full-electric or plug-in hybrid drivetrain being offered in addition to the combustion engine option4. By 2025, the rapid expansion will look to have 25 electric models available.
The future looks beyond just electric cars for BMW. The BMW iNext, set to launch in 2021, will set a new milestone in the brand’s rich history. The crossover SUV is poised to be a pioneer for many key automotive innovations, being fully electric and offering driver-assisted, Level 3 semi-autonomous driving technology when it arrives. This will mean that for the first time, a car made by the makers of the Ultimate Driving Machine, will not have to be driven.
Because an autonomous car works by communicating with other vehicles and infrastructure around it, BMW will be relying on cellular networks. BMW is working with Harman Samsung on a new Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) for technologies to locate the car from any point in the world, and it has already committed to move forward with safety-related traffic data for non-commercial use. This would theoretically mean that the car would be connected to a network shared by other automakers, city planners, and emergency services, opening up a new outlook to how BMWs may be designed, using cutting edge technology to break new ground of a car that gets you where you need to be without even touching the wheel.
The BMW iNext’s strategic innovations free up the driver, from, driving – this also opens up completely new possibilities for car interior design. As a result, the interior is acquiring a whole new significance, creating a space for relaxation, interaction, entertainment or concentration – the possibilities are as manifold as the occupants’ needs. This will be yet another innovation as BMW looks to reinvent the way a car is experienced, with the vision “to harmonise futuristic technologies in a modern living space”.
The next decade will see BMW along with many others push the boundaries of the automotive industry, revolutionising the way cars operate and changing the way we see the world from behind the wheel. While the future of electric cars looks to be arriving sooner rather than later, the BMW iNext will definitely be giving a glimpse into what could be possible, not just for BMW cars, but for all cars post-2021.
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