The boss of BMW M has hinted at the performance division's future direction.
Stricter emissions regulations are forcing automakers to embrace electrification sooner, rather than later. BMW, for example, plans to launch as many as 25 electrified models by 2023, which is two years earlier than originally planned. But what about BMW's M performance division? BMW M boss Markus Flasch told Car Advice that the performance division has no plans to electrify its core models like the M2, M3, and M4, but larger vehicles like the X5 M are likely to get the plug-in hybrid treatment.
However, BMW M is in no hurry to electrify its performance models as Flasch fears this could dilute the brand. The BMW M boss is more concerned about how a PHEV model would affect customer perceptions of the performance brand than the technical challenges adopting hybrid technology will bring.
"It's not about being the first with any particular technology. We have to be the best (but) we believe in the power of choice. I have very direct dialogue with customers… who are worried that we might dilute the power of those products today in order to be the first in new technology," he said.
"I'm not producing cars for demonstrators, for people who don't buy them. I'm producing cars for our customers and (they have) a very, very clear opinion of what they want to see. They will only buy the successor model if it's better than the predecessor model, so if a new technology doesn't qualify itself as better than its predecessor then it's not going to happen. Our customers aren't bragging about having the latest and the greatest but they know if they have an M badge on their car it's the best car when it comes to performance. We need to keep up this promise."
Flasch added that he has already driven a plug-in hybrid BMW M car, and while he didn't provide any details, he hinted that it will eventually enter production. The 2020 X5 M and X6 M boast a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 producing 617 hp in the range-topping Competition models, resulting in a 0-62 mph time of 3.7 seconds.
A potential plug-in-hybrid model would need to exceed these figures, which won't be easy according to Flasch due to the extra weight. "We have to find ways to take out weight to afford the additional technology," he said. "And there's a lot going on the chassis side and the tire side to compensate but the rules of physics always apply. There's no simple answer (to these challenges)."