The company's CEO believes it would be a foolish decision to follow Mercedes' lead and give up on low-profit cars, even as we transition to electric mobility, which is why we're getting the BMW iX1, i1, and i2.
BMW's Oliver Zipse has assured the industry that the automaker will not abandon the entry-level segment as the electrification era draws near, reports Reuters. Speaking at a conference in Berlin, the CEO said BMW is "not leaving the lower market segment."
"Even if you consider yourself a premium manufacturer, it is wrong to leave the lower market segment - that will be the core of your business in the future," added Zipse. Products like the iX1 will be a stepping-stone into the BMW i brand, a portfolio that includes high-end models like the i7 luxury sedan and iX SUV.
Zipse's comments contrast sharply with the plan Mercedes-Benz is pursuing. BMW's biggest rival will discontinue the A-Class and B-Class as it prepares to restructure itself. That's not to say the brand won't have any entry-level products - there will just be fewer to choose from as the three-pointed star pivots its focus toward more high-profit upmarket vehicles.
"The entry point to the Mercedes brand in the future will be different than today," said CEO Ola Kallenius in May. The company will introduce a new MMA platform in 2024, and it will first be used to underpin an all-new electric model. As the platform is reserved for more compact models, the new car could be an electrified variant of the CLA-Class.
These compact models won't be the Stuttgart-based brand's main focus, though. The new business strategy will see Benz cater to the ultra-rich and focus on what it calls "Top-End Luxury."
But at BMW, more relatively affordable options will exist. Rumors suggest that BMW will introduce three compact EVs before the end of the decade. The i1, iX1, and i2 are expected to enter production in November 2027, July 2027, and July 2028, respectively.
Not much is known about these vehicles, but BMW's straightforward nomenclature suggests the i1 will be a hatchback (like the 1 Series), and the iX1 could be a facelift of the existing model. The i2, however, could arrive as a traditional two-door coupe, a four-door Gran Coupe, or even as an Active Tourer.
Mercedes won't have the high-end segment to itself, though, as BMW still plans to cater to that market with vehicles like the aforementioned i7 and the expected iX5 and iX7 SUVs. It will be interesting to see if these differing strategies pay off for the respective automakers, especially as we enter a new era of motoring.
When it comes to BMW, one thing is for sure - the curious design language is here to stay. In October, Oliver Zipse said the automaker is purposefully designing controversial-looking cars in an attempt to cause a stir. "If you do not have controversy, that's the mistake you make," added the CEO.