BMW’s Big Green Plans Include an Electric 5 Series

More details around BMW’s sweeping “green” product overhaul.

byPatrick George|
BMW’s Big Green Plans Include an Electric 5 Series

Good Monday morning and welcome back to Speed Lines, The Drive's now tri-weekly roundup of what matters most in the world of cars and transportation. On today's docket we have BMW's "sustainability" plan, bad news for Mitsubishi and some updates on when you might be able to expect a Rivian in your driveway. 

'No Premium Without Responsibility'

Like all automakers, BMW is exploring how to evolve in a world where cars will eventually be primarily electric—or at least electrified. It hasn't always been very good at this. It already lost one CEO last year over concerns that he wasn't providing an adequate path to this electric future. And critics have questioned BMW's strategy of flexible platforms that will accommodate both electric and conventional engine-powered cars, when many other car companies are focusing primarily on EV-specific architectures. 

So today, the BMW Group unveiled a revised—or at least refined—plan that makes "sustainability and resource efficiency central to the company’s strategic direction." This was certainly the case before, but this is one of those investor-focused presentations where the goal was to make very, very clear that BMW is eventually going green, and has the plan to do it right. “Our aim is to ensure the most sustainable supply chain in the entire industry," the group's board chairman said in the plan.

Besides outlining how it wants to reduce CO2 output across the board—by one-third by 2030—here's the product news that matters, emphasis mine:

The BMW Group is already a leading provider of electrified vehicles: By the end of 2021, the BMW Group will offer five fully-electric production vehicles: the BMW i3, the MINI Cooper SE, the BMW iX3, the BMW iNEXT and the BMW i4. Another milestone will be the upcoming generation of the BMW 7 Series. The BMW brand flagship will be available with four different drive technologies: with a highly efficient diesel or petrol engine with 48-volt technology, as an electrified plug-in hybrid and, for the first time, as a fully-electric BEV model. The company will have 25 electrified models on the roads by 2023 – half of them fully electric.

In addition to the BMW 7 Series, comprehensive electrification will be rolled out throughout the model line-up: Further examples of the “Power of Choice” will be the high-volume BMW X1 and BMW 5 Series, which will also be available in the future with all four drive train variants – fully-electric, plug-in hybrid, diesel and petrol with 48-volt technology.

Near as I can discern, this is the first official confirmation of both an electric X1 and 5 Series sedan. It also reaffirms BMW's commitment to diesel in non-U.S. markets, although the writing is on the wall for that fuel in general. A release date for those cars was not given. 

As Reuters points out, much of this is driven by regulators in Europe and China—the former ordered a 37.5 percent cut in CO2 emissions by 2030. BMW's definitely trying a catch-all approach, with hybrid and electric and diesel variants of most of its cars as well as some specific models with alternate powertrains. With any luck some of those EVs will have the range to be appealing to American buyers, because attempts like the Mini Cooper SE haven't exactly blown us away yet.

More Bad News For Mitsubishi

When was the last time Mitsubishi had "good" news? Maybe when it was snatched up into the Nissan-Renault Alliance at a fire-sale price amid the world's most cut-rate fuel-economy cheating scandal. But while Mitsubishi has in recent years maintained a healthy presence in Asia, it's struggling in the U.S.—and now it's not even doing well in its traditional strongholds. 

This, from Reuters today:

Japan’s No. 6 automaker anticipates an operating loss of 140 billion yen ($1.33 billion) for the year ending March 2021 just as it embarks on a plan to shrink its workforce and production, and close unprofitable dealerships to cut 20% of fixed costs in two years.

This would be Mitsubishi’s biggest loss in at least 18 years according to company financial records dating back to 2002.

[...] The coronavirus crisis has exacerbated struggles at the company that had already been battling falling sales in China and southeast Asia, its largest market which accounts for a quarter of its sales.

It will also discontinue the long-running Pajero SUV—more on that already on The Drive—and scale back its presence in Europe and North America. Frankly, I wonder how long Mitsubishi even has in the latter market. The pandemic economy could be a death knell for some struggling brands, and Mitsubishi feels more in the crosshairs than ever.

Rivian Aims For Summer 2021 Deliveries

Everyone seems to love Rivian, the Michigan-based electric truck startup with some stunning designs and a CEO not given to Elon Musk-style Twitter antics. Refreshing! So if you want the R1T truck or R1S SUV, when can you actually expect one? 

June and August 2021, respectively, according to emails obtained by Tech Crunch. At least that's the plan right now—years of Tesla-watching have taught us all we can expect delays from time to time. And speaking of Mitsubishi, did you know Rivian's trucks will be built at its former Diamond Star Motors plant? 

From that story:

The factory will produce its R1T and R1S electric vehicles for consumers, as well as 100,000 delivery vans for Amazon. Rivian has said it is still on track to begin deliveries of electric vans built for Amazon in early 2021. About 10,000 of these electric vans will be on the road as early as 2022, and all 100,000 vehicles will be on the road by 2030, Amazon previously said.

We shall see.

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Your Turn

BMW's electrification plan has felt like a pretty clunky one so far. Can what was once the Ultimate Driving Machine brand successfully pivot to an electric and autonomous future?