In a flagrant exercise of self-congratulation, BMW announced it met its sales goal of 100,000 electrified vehicles in 2017 “as promised.” Saying that this “underlines the company’s leadership role when it comes to electro-mobility,” BMW installed a battery-themed light installation on the side of its world headquarters in Munich, Germany, that announces “the future is electric.”
While this may be true, mainstream news outlets have muddled the brand’s message by framing the EV aspect all wrong — which is probably exactly what the automaker hoped for. We’re not going to slander the company’s achievement outright; the volume does represent a nearly 60-percent increase over last year. But these aren’t just battery-electric cars, they’re hybrids, mild-hybrids, and BEVs.
We probably wouldn’t have winced if BMW had just announced it had achieved its sales goal for the year, let media pick it up, and moved on. However, the undue pageantry accompanying the news rubs us the wrong way.
“We deliver on our promises,” stated Harald Krüger, chairman of the BMW Group’s Board of Management. “This 99-meter-high signal is lighting the way into the era of electro-mobility. Selling 100,000 electrified cars in one year is an important milestone, but this is just the beginning for us. Since the introduction of the BMW i3 2013, we’ve delivered over 200,000 electrified cars to our customers and by 2025, we will offer 25 electrified models to our customers. Our early focus on electro-mobility has made this success possible — and electro-mobility will continue to be my measure for our future success.”
That’s all well and good but Nissan surpassed the 100,000-unit mark with the all-electric Leaf in January of 2014. Nine years earlier, Toyota sold 107,897 examples of the Prius in the United States alone. These days, practically everyone is selling hybrids or BEVs and global plug-in volume has more than tripled since 2013.
For BMW, electrified vehicles make up about 7 percent of its total sales in Western Europe and the United States. While not bad, the brand’s most eco-friendly model, the i3, has seen its share of the market dwindle in North America every year since 2015.
Granted, Bavarian Motor Works isn’t the only company that conflates “electrified” with electric cars. This is a sin that almost everyone is guilty of. However, not everyone is building high-tech monuments to themselves as a result. Perhaps the manufacturer was simply trying to psych itself up for the future. In addition to making plans to implement mild-hybrid technology across its portfolio — which should only just barely qualify as an electric vehicle — BMW also intends to field 12 fully-electric models by 2025 with a ranges of up to 430 miles.
[Image: BMW Group]