BMW could end up being the last of the holdouts.
Cars with V12 engines have already become few and far between as turbocharging and electrification have produced motors that are more potent than their normally aspirated predecessors. There are still a few holdouts in the exotic space - such as Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Lamborghini - but more mainstream automakers like Mercedes-Benz have already admitted that V12s don't have much of a future.
Unlike Mercedes, however, BMW seems to be more uncertain about the future of its V12s. It was initially rumored that the next-generation 7 Series would drop the V12. Then, when the facelifted car arrived with a V12 option, BMW claimed that the engine wasn't going anywhere for the foreseeable future.
Speaking with Autoblog, BMW has once again changed its stance on the V12 engine and seems far less optimistic about its viability in the future. Markus Flasch, CEO of BMW's M Division, said, "Beyond what we have, I don't believe we will see a new twelve-cylinder model in the foreseeable future." Flasch also said that the M brand will retain its devotion to high-performance, but also claimed that the brand's image is about to change.
"We will follow our oath of success as the dominant high-performance brand," Flasch said. "In the past, we have had the era of launching turbocharging and all-wheel drive, and if we look forward, my years will be the era of the brand's electrification."
As for what type of electrification we will see on future M models, Flasch kept it vague. "We are evaluating all technologies - mild hybrids and plug-in hybrids, but also fully electric cars," Flasch explained. He also stressed that electrified M models will be different than their non-M counterparts. "While BMW's regular cars are focused on electric range, our focus is on performance, and this means not just in a straight line, but also in corners. The performance needs to be reproducible and track-ready, and in some ways, this requires different technological approaches. And that's why, just like with all-wheel-drive, we won't be the first high-performance brand to go electric. But [we will be] the best."
If you aren't excited about the prospect of an electrified M model, don't worry because the change won't happen overnight. "We will not just flip a switch and I can imagine very well that, depending on the country and the model, we will continue to offer cars just with the internal combustion engine, parallel to our electrified models," Flasch promised.