Markus Flasch, chairman of BMW's sporting M division, reportedly confirmed in Australia last week that the marque's first electrified performance car "is not too far in the distance."
BMW already sells electrified "performance" models such as the i8 and X5 xDrive40e, but there has not yet been a full-fledged M hybrid or electric car. Flasch told Go Auto that such a model isn't far out and that M is actively developing hybrid and battery-electric performance powertrains.
"Everything that brings competitiveness and performance to a car is relevant for M and we see a lot of potential in both technologies," Flasch said. Flasch couldn't specify whether this inaugural electrified model will be based on a non-M model or whether it will be an M-exclusive model, such as the hypercar to which another BMW executive alluded. What he could explain was how M might execute its first electrified performance model, and why.
"When we talk about electric vehicles, this offers a huge opportunity for us because if you think about current systems, you pretty much control the engine output over braking, or brake systems—you destroy energy with it," said Flasch. "On an electric car, if you think about four independent engines, you can do this type of control on the power side, not on the braking side, and this is where we think we will make a difference when it comes to electric cars."
"As long as you get the exact right amount of torque to the wheel in the right situation… then there is no certain number of horsepower or limit to the power, it's just about how you control it."
Flasch confirmed that M won't make a wholesale conversion toward hybrids or electric cars overnight, and that combustion-only models will coexist with electrified vehicles. Additionally, he insisted that M's integration of electric power won't dilute the value of the historic M brand, and that possible "i"-prefixed models won't necessarily even use electric power. For all we know, we could see a second model in BMW's lineup with a V12, engines which the Bavarian brand will continue to make until at least 2023.
"i does not stand for electrification," Flasch continued. "Both our [M and i] companies use electric powertrain systems—it doesn't mean there's a conflict because M will always stand for performance… and i will stand for innovation, incubation of new technology, autonomous driving."