BMW's M will electrify every model in its lineup by the end of the next decade, but has all-but ruled out introducing a pure EV in the short-term future.
Speaking at the launch of the M2 and M5 Competition models, M boss Frank Van Meel confirmed his plan to introduce alternative powertrain technology across every model in the sprawling performance lineup.
But you're unlikely to see a full-EV M car anytime in the near future, with Van Meel saying plug-in hybrid technology better suits the M profile.
"For sure all M vehicles will be electrified by the end of the next decade, and that's going to happen step-by-step," he says.
"We have a lot of M customers that drive long distances and use their car quite regularly, and for them (recharging) will be a hassle, so that's really still making it difficult, even though it's not the technological issue. It's more an overall mobility issue all over the world.
"Plug-in hybrids are probably the better solution, because they give you mobility even if you can't find a place to charge your car, so that's probably something for more than just short periods."
The obvious question, of course, is when. But while other manufacturers are rushing to embrace an electrified future, Van Meel says the current technology simply isn't up to his standards, saying battery technology is simply too heavy to create a vehicle that "drives like an M".
"What's the right time to do that? If you're too late, you're too late. But if you're too early, you don't have the straight-to-the-point technology," he says.
"If you look at today's electrification components, they're still quite heavy, and for us, as overall vehicle weight and power-to-weight ratio is key, the current technology does work in a sense, but it's still too heavy for M.
"But what we do see is that the steps in electrification are speeding up regarding power density of batteries, and also range coming out of electric batteries. So there's a lot going on. For us now it's the point of where can I fit in? What's the right timing? When is the technology available and what platform is suitable?
"if we do an M in an electrified way, it should still drive like an M. That is the basic target we have no matter what kind of setup. We're playing around with a lot of configurations and also trying to predict how the weight is going down and what the next generation steps will be to find out what is the right configuration to keep the M promise.
"But we don't have the final solution yet."
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