BMW preparing for a huge change
BMW is preparing for an electric revolution but it can't do it all on its own.
The German brand is in the early stages of an electrification onslaught with 25 new models due by 2023. Of these, 12 will be purely electric and the rest plug-in hybrid - and all will be sold in Australia.
BMW Australia chief Vikram Pawah believes electric cars can be a success in Australia but consumers need to be made more aware of the benefits.
"There is a lack of awareness in Australia about electrification. We all want the same thing; we want more performance and better fuel economy," says Pawah.
"I don't think (Australia) is a challenging place to sell electric cars. Latent consumer demand is there.
"Other countries' governments are encouraging people to get on electric, and maybe that is missing," he says.
BMW Australia is going all out on plug-in hybrids. By the end of the year, it will expand its petrol-electric model range, including versions of the popular 3 Series and X3 and X5 SUVs.
"This year there will be seven plug-in hybrids, something across every price point," he says.
He believes that plug-in hybrids are especially suited to Australia because they allow short burst of electric only driving, which is enough for a regular commute, but without the range anxiety on longer drives.
But he cautions Australians aren't fully aware of the technology's capabilities. And when customers hear "electrified" they inevitably think of Tesla and fully electric cars.
The introduction of plug-in hybrids will provide a stepping stone for the brand's eventual launch of fully electric cars.
The electric cars represent the brand's new breed. The i3 electric car will not be renewed and BMW will end production of its i8 hybrid supercar this year.
BMW isn't going completely green. One in five sales last year in Australia wore an M performance badge and the brand isn't going to deny those customers. Australia, with its unquenchable thirst for performance cars, is one of the brand's most popular markets.
Pawah says BMW will try to build something for everyone, with petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and fully electric versions of the same model. The first to get this treatment will be the X3.