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BMW Working Towards Electric M5

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Electrification, says the new BMW M boss, will have to earn the M badge.

Like his immediate predecessor, Frank van Meel, told us a year ago, BMW M division's new boss, Marcus Flasch, is keenly aware that electrification has arrived. Hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and full-on EVs are now realities, evidenced by the sheer number of battery-powered passenger cars, supercars, and hypercars on display here at Geneva. But there has yet to be an electrified M model. Will this change? Yes, but it's not going to happen immediately.

One of Flasch's most vital tasks will be to decide when the technology is ready for M cars, not the other way around. In short, electrified propulsion and all related areas still need improvement.

"We will put the train on the rails during my term (as M division chief)," Flasch told us. "If we're going to see something in the next 3 to 6 years it's not something I can discuss today, but we are working on all types of electrification, all types of concepts."

Flash earned the job following his work as development chief for the new 8 Series because he understands the vital role emotion plays in M cars. It's not possible to just swap out a twin-turbo V8 for a powerful battery pack and electric motors at all four wheels.

"Electrification needs to deserve the M badge," he said. "We are in the lucky position that with our current engine lineup we are fulfilling all (emissions) regulations worldwide. We are happy. Our customers are happy. I don't have the urge to put something to market as a test to see if it performs as well as the current M5. I will only put an electrified M5 to the market as soon as it outperforms the current one. But this is what we're working towards."

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Flasch also made clear that after adding electrification into the mix, M cars must maintain their signature driving, handling, and emotional traits.

"Electrification is not just about propulsion technology. It's the way you apply it, the way you control it. It's the way the chassis and engine systems cooperate. Character is key. I think there is a way to get an EV or a plug-in hybrid extremely emotional, but it's more than just adding components together and putting a badge on it. There's still a lot of know-how that needs to go into this."

Flasch is in no immediate rush to join the EV bandwagon but when the first electrified M model does arrive, rest assured it'll be brilliant fun to drive.