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Brace yourself… electric BMW M cars are coming

Though don’t expect a supercar or a hotter i8 anytime soon

Published: 30 Sep 2016
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Is nothing in this world sacred? Having slapped the badge on SUVs, fully-embraced turbocharging and ditching its strict rear-wheel drive-only policy, BMW’s M Division is now eyeing up an even bigger shift – electrification of its powertrains.

“At the end of the road, of course, M vehicles will be electrified,” Frank van Meel, boss of M Division, admitted. “We follow a clear motorsport philosophy about precision, dynamics, agility - drivetrain isn’t the defining factor of what M stands for, it’s just a way of fulfilling our philosophy. So yes, electric drivetrains in the future can also fulfil our philosophy and they will.

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“If you look at electrification technology right now, the weight increase would be too big compared to the increase of performance. The answer for the time being is no, but on the other hand we are looking at what project 'i' is doing with new battery technologies and new e-motors, so when we see the advancements in technology are big enough, then the time will be right.”

It’s not looking good for an M-developed supercar – a la Mercedes-AMG GT – either, says van Meel: “The i8 is the current halo car, it’s the future on the road. I wouldn’t want to ruin this halo effect by trying to make another halo car, so currently it’s not an issue. And from an M perspective, rather than having a flagship and a heap of boats, we’d rather have an armada of high-performance vessels.” Shots fired.

Anyway, last roll of the dice, surely there’s scope to turn the wick up on the i8. More power, more grip, etc. “You can’t marry M and ‘i’ together because i8 is perfect as it is. Although it has batteries, the weight is below 1,500kg and to make that happen you have to make the car exactly to the point", said van Meel, kiboshing our fantasy. “You can’t say 'I want more performance, wider tyres, and a six-cylinder engine', because the overall vehicle concept is so perfectly to the point.”

So there you have it. What do we think internet: is the M brand navigating in the right direction or needing to plot a new course? Damn, this boat thing is infectious...

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