Will Future Electric BMWs Be Fun to Drive?
Mark Vaughn writes some good stuff at Autoweek
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BMW’s product manager for M offers his reassurances.
BMW is making the transition to electrification.
"By 2023 we will offer our customers at least one BEV option in nearly all our vehicle segments and over the next 10 years we aim to release a total of about 10 million fully electric vehicles onto the market," BMW CEO Oliver Zipse told analysts on an earnings call on August 3.
True, every other manufacturer on the planet is transitioning to an electric future, but for BMW it’s different. BMW was always that special performance carmaker that managed to merge sportiness with what might be considered practicality—you could have fun throwing a BMW into a corner while hauling around the whole family and introducing them to the thrill of lateral g’s. Or maybe car sickness, it all depends. So if BMW is going to go electric, there is a certain emotional investment we’ve all made into the brand that has to go along with it. The company that made the 2002 tii, E36 M3, and still makes the modern M2 and even the M5 CS has an obligation to its beloveds (us) to keep making cars that are fun to drive, doesn’t it? So, the question we’re all faced with here is: Will future electric BMWs still be exciting?
To find out we sat down with product manager for BMW M at BMW NA John Kelly and asked about that and one or two other things. The following conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Autoweek: It appears the world’s going electric, or it’s going somewhere, probably electric. How is M, our favorite letter of the alphabet, going to make the transition to this electric future?
John Kelly: Electrification is a big part of BMW’s future. And a transition with M has already started with the BMW i4 M50. I had the opportunity to drive it in Europe recently and I have to say the car’s fantastic. So, it really embodies those quintessential characteristics of what makes an M car an M car. It’s not just about one metric that you do really well. Straight-line acceleration, of course, has to be very good. But that’s not the only point. It has to be that well-rounded, well-balanced performance package. And the i4 M50, I think, does this extremely well, with a low center of gravity, tons of mechanical grip, the car just handles great and transitions very smoothly, it’s very predictable. Of course, it’s very powerful. And it has strong brakes. It really is that well-rounded, performance package that we know and love from BMW M.