Does this mean a hardcore BMW i8 M could be on the cards?
Earlier this month, BMW CEO Harald Krueger confirmed what we all knew was coming: that future BMW M models are going to be electrified. He doesn't expect, however, that this will affect sales of BMW's existing electric i models. "[BMW sub brand] 'i' does not just stand for electrification, i stands much more for innovation, for incubation of new technology," Markus Flasch, president BMW M, told Australia's Motoring. "M has always stood for performance… there is no conflict of, for instance, having electrified powertrains involved."
The switch to electrified M cars is going to happen sooner than you might think, too, as Flasch went on to reveal that BMW's M division will soon introduce three forms of electrification including 48-volt systems, plug-in hybrids and fully battery electric vehicles. "I cannot disclose when we will launch the first vehicle… But it's not too far in the distance," he said.
Intriguingly, Flasch believes any BMW i car could get the M treatment, so it's possible we could see a hardcore BMW i8 M. Sadly, Flasch was unable to confirm which i models will get the performance upgrades. "I cannot discuss what we're doing on i8 or its successors; what I can disclose is that there is a very close cooperation between i and M – also the guys from M Motorsport, [who] work on the Formula e cars. Everything's possible there. For instance, we can do M versions of i cars, we can do whatever we want. But it doesn't depend on whether it's electrified or not."
Rumors have suggested the i8 may not be renewed for a second generation, but Flasch's refusal to discuss the car's future hints that a replacement is coming. Flasch also said BMW M wants to make a new hypercar, but hasn't been able to make a business case to BMW yet. The fact is BMW's current lineup doesn't have a car that can be used as a foundation, but the publication suggests a low-emissions, high-performance coupe in the vein of an i8 successor could spawn a BMW M hypercar.
Development of a potential i8 successor will be handled by BMW i, but the M division may play a larger part in its development if there's a hyper-performance model planned. "They [M and i] can remain distinct entities because i does not stand for electrification… both of our companies use electric powertrains," Flasch explained.