BMW won’t abandon its entry-level models in the transition to EVs, the automaker’s CEO said in a recent interview with Reuters.
“We are not leaving the lower market segment,” BMW CEO Oliver Zipse said. “Even if you consider yourself a premium manufacturer, it is wrong to leave the lower market segment—that will be the core of your business in the future.”
As Reuters noted, those comments contrast the strategy of rival Mercedes-Benz, which is cutting the number of entry-level models and shifting resources to more expensive—and higher-profit—models.
BMW’s most recent EV efforts have not emphasized affordability. The BMW i4 is a step up in size and price from the discontinued i3, the BMW iX is positioned near the top of the automaker’s SUV lineup, and the BMW i7 is an electric version of BMW’s 7-Series flagship.
On the other hand, BMW currently builds one of the most affordable EVs in the U.S. market—but it’s a Mini. The 2023 Mini Cooper SE is one of the five lowest-priced EVs currently available in the U.S., with a $35,075 base price. That only buys 114 miles of range, however.
Any future affordable BMW-badged EVs will likely draw from the Neue Klasse dedicated EV platform and component set BMW plans to roll out later this decade. This will mark a shift from BMW’s current strategy of using shared platforms for electric and internal-combustion models, such as the CLAR platform that underpins the i4 and i7, and will also be used for the BMW i5 launching in 2023.
Zipse earlier this year clarified that the Neue Klasse will initially be nearly the size of the current BMW 3-Series, which has historically been the automaker’s top-selling model. It’s no longer a true entry-level model, however, as the BMW 2-Series Gran Coupe is now positioned below it in the automaker’s U.S. lineup.
BMW in September also confirmed a shift to cylindrical battery cells in the Neue Klasse models—and likely other EVs, moving forward. The automaker hopes this format, which is already used by Tesla, Lucid, and Rivian, will unlock range gains of up to 30%.
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