hyperdrive

BMW Bets on Self-Driving iNext Halo in Luxury Sales Race

Updated on
  • Company will offer first look at concept this year: CEO
  • BMW plans to unveil 20 new, refreshed models this year

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

BMW AG offered a glimpse of its self-driving iNext car, bringing its lineup of next-generation vehicles into clearer focus as the luxury-car market enters the digital era.

BMW’s iNext automobile.

Source: BMW AG

The company, which showed off the copper-color Vision Next 100 in 2016, will offer a more concrete concept of the partly self-driving, electric iNext this year, Chief Executive Officer Harald Krueger said Thursday at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. More models will follow the iNext that’s due to enter showrooms in 2021, Krueger said.

“For the first time, we are combining all key technologies for future mobility,” Krueger said in prepared remarks “The iNext is fully electric, fully connected, and enables safe, partially autonomous driving.”

BMW is looking to rekindle consumer excitement after a few subdued years that saw Mercedes-Benz take the lead in luxury car sales with a revamped model lineup featuring sporty vehicles like GLC sport utility vehicle. BMW’s sales growth through April trailed at less than half Mercedes’ rate. To recapture its drive, BMW is bringing out a record 40 new and refreshed model unveils, half of which will come to market this year with a focus on popular SUV models like the all-new X2 compact.

Harald Krueger

Photographer: Giulia Marchi/Bloomberg

As the company rolls out its record model offensive, it’s is also ramping up its electric vehicle production in the face of increased pressure to meet emissions targets. To finance the costly investment spree that’s raising outlays on research and development to a record 7 billion euros ($8.3 billion), BMW is bookending its push with high-end vehicles like the 8-Series, which will be available in six derivatives like the M8 Gran Coupe.

Shares of BMW rose 1.5 percent at 4:33 p.m. in Frankfurt, boosting gains this year to 7.7 percent and valuing the company at 60.8 billion euros.

“In a complex, fast-paced world, there are no easy answers,” said Krueger. “Commercial success cannot be taken for granted -- especially over the long term.”

(Updates with share performance in sixth paragraph.)
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