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CAR NEWS: Luxury, driving pleasure and efficiency with BMW i Performance

If you love driving but fear that an electrified car will dull the experience, fear not for BMW’s got your interests at heart. After all, you leased a 535i xDrive because of the brand’s promise of providing performance, prestige and pleasure in one single package. As the end of the lease approaches, you wonder about the new 530e xDrive and whether or not it will live up to your expectations.

I can tell you that it will. I only managed 30 minutes of wheel time but it was enough to let me know that not only does it drive and feel like a true Bimmer, the levels of technology will impress you and be a conversation topic for weeks and months to come.

BMW’s recipe for its “mainstream” iPerformance cars combines a twin-power turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine and an eDrive electric motor. A high-voltage lithium-ion battery pack and 8-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission complete the mechanicals. This setup is what you’ll find in the 330e, 530e, 740Le and the best-selling X5 40e so if you’re thinking SUV for the next round, you’ll be served.

BMW’s “i” cars, namely the i3 and i8 are also on the menu as is the just introduced MINI Countryman S E plug-in hybrid. All of the aforementioned iPerformance cars provide a full-electric range of between 19 and 25 km, including the i8. The i3 BEV without the range-extender provides the user with 183 km of range. Through millions of kilometers of testing and data gathering, BMW’s come to learn that the average commute is of only 47 km and thus average fuel economy numbers will be negligible.

As it stands, BMW has an electrified line-up of seven cars, more than any other German carmaker. But they’re nowhere near being done. The BMW Group expects that by 2025, electrified vehicles will account for 15 to 25% of their sales and in order to attain these numbers, more product will be required.

Between 2017 and 2021, BMW will introduce a battery of new electrified vehicles of which two variations of the X3 are likely to have the greatest impact. This compact crossover has proven to be very popular with more 1.5 million units sold so far. Between now and 2020, both a plug-in hybrid version and a fully electric iteration will be made available.

In the meanwhile, a sexy i8 Roadster will arrive as will a fully electric MINI Cooper 3-door in 2019. BMW added that three more electrified products are on the way but did not elaborate on bodystyle, powertrain or range. My best guess is that two are likely going to be part of their SAV (sport activity vehicle) or SUV family. The icing on the cake for this four-year plan will be what they refer to as the iNext. Again, no word on what it actually will be but I’d like to speculate the return of the rumored i5 or the next generation i3.

As the years go by, we can expect that BEVs, PHEVs and FCEVs with improved ranges are on their way. All of this technology is developed in-house by BMW at many locations around the world and as such, if a 20km range seems underwhelming at the moment, we only need to wait a short while.

Today however, BMW i-performance are dominating sales in Canada for luxury brand electrified new car registrations. In 2016, 2.3% of BMWs sold were iPerformance and that percentage will do nothing if not increase. BMW hinted at wanting to also reach the sweet spot established by Tesla by offering a new BEV with decent range (315km) and for roughly $45k.  As well, possible BEV versions of the X1 and 3 Series are being studied.

Given all of this, I believe that BMW will achieve their goal of 25% of sales belonging to the electrified kind by 2025.

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