BMW M's boss admits the company is always looking at building a supercar.
What's the one thing BMW M fans have been wanting for years? Well, aside from a design that doesn't offend everyone around them, BWM M fans want a supercar - at least, that's what every M fan on the internet would have you believe. So it stands to reason that in the 50th year of its existence, BMW M would celebrate its motorsport heritage and release its second-ever bespoke M model, a spiritual successor to the M1…and build an SUV.
So it's not what most M fans wanted, but BMW M Boss Frank van Meel has explained why the time was right for a definitive M SUV and how it is a necessary monster to compete with the likes of Lamborghini. But in between his explanations, van Meel said something to CarBuzz that piqued our interest…"It doesn't mean we're not looking into super sports cars. We're always looking into that."
Upon hearing this, we fought the urge to go full Dumb and Dumber with that famous line, "So you're telling me there's a chance?" Instead, we asked if BMW M might pursue a second halo model to restore our faith in the brand after the XM all but ruined it.
According to the boss, the idea of a super sports car has never been off the table at M, and it never will be. "We've been looking at [that potential] for a couple of decades. It might take another couple of decades or not, we will see."
The main thing here is that the market needs to be right, as it was in the 1970s when the M1 first arrived. "I think when we started with the M1, those were the golden ages of the sports car. Every company wanted to participate in this growing [premium] segment, and this important segment had to have a sports car 50 years ago," states van Meel.
So what could a BMW supercar of the future entail? BMW M has already made the decision to go electric and is hard at work developing a next-gen electric powertrain with four motors - one in each wheel - capable of 1,340 horsepower. The next-gen M3 and M4 will be electric and utilize this architecture, but what about an electric hypercar to rival a Rimac Nevera?
"The drivetrain we're making is also a drivetrain we would like to use as a basis for racing in future," claims van Meel. "So with that DNA included, it could also be used for a sports car, of course." But van Meel made it clear that until the technology was at the right point, it wouldn't be viable, saying the BMW M cannot put its name to a product that won't represent the brand well.
Referring to the i8, he said that it was ahead of its time in design and carbon fiber construction but that technology hasn't sufficiently progressed since. A successor to that car now would not represent the best BMW has to offer - especially in a few years when technology has taken yet another quantum leap forward.
New battery tech from the brand, paired with the quad-motor powertrain, is the next step, so within a few years, the time may be right.
On the tangent of a pure electric race car, BMW's Motorsport division has set that target for the end of this decade. That's one of the reasons van Meel gave as to why BMW does not want to get back into Formula 1. "BMW is planning to start with a hybrid race car in 2026, or maybe even 2027," he says, referring to the new F1 ruleset for 2026 that will redefine the balance of ICE vs. electric to be more balanced at approximately 50/50 compared to the current hybrid setups that still rely heavily on the combustion element of the powertrain.
"We do not want to wait that long. Because at the end of this decade, we want to find a solution for purely electric racing. So that's why we said LMDh is the right concept. Because we are starting right now."
One problem facing BMW's electric racing ambitions is the sound, or rather lack thereof, of EVs. When racing, you rely on all your senses to judge how fast you're going. "If you're on the track right now, you don't look at your speedometer, because you don't have the time. You only see the shift lights from the corner of your eye, but you hear the noise, you know the gear you're in. So you know at what points you need to brake and how fast you are," he explains. "That is something you will lose if you're purely electric because you only have one gear, and you don't have any acoustic feedback."
When BMW manages to solve this, it will have big ramifications for roadgoing electric M cars. "We need to fix that. And if we fix that, that is something we will also use on more high-performance cars, of course."
There is a strange dichotomy between BMW M's two angles of attack at present. On the one hand, the BMW XM represents everything M isn't - heavy, complicated, and built for appearances - while van Meel's statements on an electric supercar, on motorsport, and on the retention of the manual gearbox and the six-cylinder engine in M cars point to the passionate focus that the M brand was founded upon.
We hope the latter outweighs the former going forward, because the dream of an M supercar is one we don't want to let go of and desperately want to see come to fruition.