BMW Loses Electric Leaders Because Of Lack Of Urgency.
“perhaps not unexpected given the company’s seeming lacklustre commitment to BMW “i””
BMW has lost key members of its electric vehicle design team because it failed to show sufficient interest in developing its “i” brand.
That’s the view of investment researcher Evercore ISI.
In mid-April, Bloomberg News reported that key members of BMW’s “i” brand, set up to develop a range of battery and plug-in hybrid powered vehicles, had defected to a Chinese electric-vehicle company called Future Mobility, which is backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd and Foxconn Technology Group.
BMW sells the i3 battery powered vehicle available with a range-extending petrol engine, and the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar. It had been expected to announce the i5, an all-electric SUV to match the Tesla Model X. That’s gone quiet of late. The defections are all the more embarrassing for BMW following the German government’s unveiling of an incentive scheme to subsidize electric cars.
Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said the defections reflected BMW’s lack of commitment to electric cars.
“We view the exodus as a blow to BMW but perhaps not unexpected given the company’s seeming lacklustre commitment to BMW “i” where the i3 and i8 seem almost standalone products with little or no plans on how to succeed them,” he said.
“In our view, BMW has missed an opportunity to not only be at the forefront of electric technology but also to develop a new “electric” brand which would appeal to a different customer set,” Ellinghorst said.
This must have frustrated BMW’s electric team, which saw Tesla received a massive accolade for its Model 3, he said.
“In the interim, BMW seems content to apply the new “eDrive” badge to its plug-in hybrid vehicles whilst we wait for it to develop an all new “i” model expected towards the end of the decade,” Ellinghorst said.
“In our view, BMW needs to increase its focus on BMWi well beyond what CEO (Harald) Krueger announced at the recent strategy day,” he said.
That included vague talk of some more electric cars, plus a roadster version of its i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, along with a new version of its i3 with increased battery capacity and longer range, as well as a plug-in hybrid for its Mini brand.