BMW's Game Plan: Connectivity, Autonomous Technology and a Whole Lot of Plug-ins

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
bmw s game plan connectivity autonomous technology and a whole lot of plug ins

BMW Group is laying out its game plan for the future, and it includes a lot of new electric vehicles.

Beyond the marketing buzzwords, there’s much similarity between BMW’s plan, released yesterday, and those of so many other automakers: building high-tech convenience and connectivity into their vehicles, diversifying their electric offerings, developing autonomous driving technology, and making the customer feel extra special.

The immediate effect on BMW’s rolling stock will be an expanded “i” range of all-electric or plug-in hybrid models, starting with a convertible version of the i8 and a longer-ranged version of the i3 by the end of this year.

A plug-in Mini is the next new model on BMW’s radar. In total, the automaker wants to have seven models in the “i” range.

In addition to gas and electric, BMW plans to continue development of hydrogen fuel cell technology in the hope that all three propulsion types can one day be applied to a single platform. It’s a move towards the adaptable architecture many automakers are pursuing.

While BMW’s “project i” tackles electric vehicle technology, “project i 2.0” is designed to mate that expertise with autonomous driving technology.

“Our focus is clear: we are securing the BMW Group’s position as technological market leader,” said Klaus Fröhlich, the board member responsible for development, in a statement.

“With project i 2.0 we will lead the field of autonomous driving. We will turn research projects into new kinds of industrial processes, bringing future technology onto the road.”

Key areas of focus will be digital maps, sensor technology, cloud technology and artificial intelligence. Some of the automaker’s early development of self-driving technology can be seen in the self-parking 7-series; new advancements will be added on as the technology becomes available on more models.

Like other automakers, all of BMW’s new technology isn’t necessarily going to be developed in-house. Through its BMW i Ventures group, the automaker plans to keep an eye on independent startups, investing in them if necessary in order to capitalize on certain products or emerging trends.

The development of mobility services will continue alongside vehicle technology.

Despite its pursuit of a connected, driverless future, the automaker plans to continue wringing efficiencies out of its internal combustion engines, while expanding those model lines.

Every business needs money to grow, and BMW says it knows where to find it: at the top end of the market. A planned premium SUV, the X7, is designed to meet public’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for ultra-luxury utility vehicles while delivering a high rate of return.

When you’re planning on changing the (driving) world, you have to be honest about where the funds will come from.

[Image: © Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

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  • Healthy skeptic Healthy skeptic on Mar 18, 2016

    Focusing on the EV aspect of the above article, I really do not get the i3. At all. When Tesla finally proved there was a market for sexy high-performance luxury vehicles, I thought BMW would be all over that. I figured soon they'd be rolling out an electrified equivalent of the M5, or whatever. Gorgeous. Blazing fast. Makes you want it in an irrational way. Instead they gave us...the i3. As far as I can tell, it's a slightly better version of the Nissan Leaf, for about $20K more, with a generous dollop of the funky-ugly science-experiment styling that all manufacturers firmly believe are what EV customers must surely want. (Why???) Is the "i" series of cars going to be BWM's dork lineup?

  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on Mar 18, 2016

    They should turn their technological prowess toward figuring out how to keep the oil INSIDE the engine.

  • Probert Sorry to disappoint: any list. of articles with a 1 second google search. It's a tough world out there - but you can do it!!!!!!
  • ToolGuy "We're marking the anniversary of the time Robert Farago started the GM death watch and called for the company to die."• No, we aren't. Robert Farago wrote that in April 2005. It was reposted in 2009 on the eve of the actual bankruptcy filing.The byline dates are sometimes strange/off with the site revisions (and the 'this is a repost' note got lost), but the date string in the link is correct (...2005/04...). Posting about GM bankruptcy in 2005 was a slightly more difficult call than doing it in 2009.-- The Truth About Calendars
  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.
  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.
  • MaintenanceCosts "Rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all."I very much doubt that is true in places like the Navajo Nation or the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, some of which lost 2% or more of their population to COVID.No city had a death rate in the same order of magnitude.Low-density living is a very modern invention. Before cars, people, even in agricultural areas, needed to live densely to survive.