With the upper classes enjoying one of the largest wealth gaps in modern history, Rolls-Royce had a phenomenal sales year in 2021. Volume surpassed every other annum in its 117-year history, which might encourage one to assume that the business would be interested in maintaining the status quo. But that’s not to be the case, with CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös having confirmed that Rolls-Royce is fully committed to abandoning internal combustion.
The automaker has said that its first series-production electric vehicle will arrive in 2023. However, it would like to have every gasoline-driven model in its lineup replaced by EVs by 2030 and the relevant strategies are already being put into action. From here onward, Rolls-Royce won’t be introducing any new combustion-reliant models.
On Tuesday, BMW announced it would be partnering with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to develop a cloud-based IT solution allowing it to integrate data and analytics into literally every aspect of the business “from vehicle development to after-sales services.” The automaker said data will now be shifted around liberally between business units and operations in over a hundred countries to help create a more fluid and responsive way of doing business. BMW to hire and train up to 5,000 software engineers in the latest Amazon tech to “empower” its workforce to manage the data.
Though some of that will be handled independently by artificial intelligence. Along with the physical construction of the necessary data hub, the company plans on certifying roughly 2,000 in machine learning and data analysis. If that sounds a bit technical and vague, just imagine BMW building Skynet from the Terminator films and actually getting some decent work out of it before it decided to exterminate humanity.
Despite every manufacturer on the planet eager to inject mobility services into the business, the array of programs that encompasses has yet to establish itself as a reliable source of revenue. Frankly, the whole thing seems like a gigantic money pit for the industry made worse by how loosely the term is defined. Customer data acquisition, vehicle connectivity, electrification, subscription programs, over-the-air updates, and autonomous driving all fall under the umbrella of “mobility” that’s costing automakers a bundle with the promise of being profitable later.
This week, BMW CEO Oliver Zipse acknowledged the premium his company has had to pay to maintain such programs and that it’s considering a joint venture with Daimler AG to help mitigate cost. This would presumably expand the German-based Free Now car-sharing program they already share — though BMW was cagey on the details.
In 2014, Mayor Eric Garcetti wanted to show Los Angeles that he would take an active role in spearheading “environmental justice,” announcing several initiatives to combat the city’s notorious air pollution.
One of those efforts involved transitioning government-owned fleets towards battery power and hybridization. By the following year, the LAPD announced it was ready to consider contracts with various automakers ready to help provide the non-emergency administrative unit (which was new at the time) with a fleet of environmentally friendly vehicles.
BMW ultimately won out, resulting in a fleet of i3 hatchbacks — some of which were painted and given lights for traffic enforcement duties or other light police work (e.g. community outreach). The leasing agreement kicked off in 2016 and ultimately cost taxpayers over $10,200,000 when combined with the charging infrastructure that had to be installed to support them. But the department and the mayor started taking heat after the public learned the vehicles were hardly ever used for police business, resulting in a minor scandal.
Notifying the world that the program seems to have been a massive waste of resources didn’t change anything, however. Most vehicles saw little use through 2019 and many are now being sold by the dealership that initially leased them to the LAPD.
BMW revealed the production version of the iX3 crossover this week, adhering as closely to the 2018 concept as possible. More aerodynamic than your standard X3 and adorned with visual cues hinting at its status as a zero-emissions vehicle, Bavaria’s newest electric seems adequate transportation for those with modest expectations.
But this is supposed to be the first vehicle in the brand’s upcoming product offensive, a strategy aimed at helping it transition into the next Tesla or whatever fantasy scenario corporate leadership has deluded themselves into. Forget the i3 — this is what it looks like when BMW gets serious about electrification. That’s the marketing line being used to stir interest, at least. However, it starts to unravel a bit when you look at the vehicle’s capabilities and planned trajectory.
Bavaria-based BMW says it aims to cut roughly 6,000 positions from its lineup on account of coronavirus complications. Times are tough and the manufacturer needs to tighten its belt, just like many of its peers.
The alley-oop that precedes the slam dunking of these jobs into the wastebasket will be tempting retirement packages for those of a certain age. But BMW also said it is interested in offering younger people financial assistance for full-time higher education with a guarantee of a job when they’re done — offering some amount of hope.
Mini says it will ship its Sidewalk Edition convertible to the United States next month. Apparently, no one told BMW Group that the country is currently navigating a situation that might not encourage the sale of open-air automobiles. Still, it’s an interesting little car that holds some measure of appeal to those seeking the laid-back California lifestyle — and are willing to spend $38,400 (plus $850 for destination) to embrace it.
The cabriolet is essentially a Cooper S, packing the same 189-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo that model uses to scramble to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. Yet it costs the same as the performance-focused John Cooper Works with a collapsible roof. For the Sidewalk Edition, that money has been reallocated from the powertrain in order to gussy up the car with some funky new duds.
BMW Group revealed this week that it is under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission following a report of a probe related to the company’s sales practices. A spokesperson for the automaker confirmed the situation on Thursday, saying BMW was in full cooperation with authorities and their investigation.
The probe was reported on earlier in the week by The Wall Street Journal, which had insider sources alleging the company had manipulated sales figures. The SEC is specifically worried that BMW had been engaging in “sales punching” by allowing dealers to register cars moved onto lots as sold to artificially boost sales figures.
BMW is walking back its controversial decision to charge an annual subscription for the use of Apple’s CarPlay in its vehicles. We quickly complained about it, worried that it would spur a new trend of charging customers for the privilege of accessing what is normally standard content.
The German manufacturer originally said the subscription fee was necessary in order to offer wireless updates aimed at keeping the user interface evolving with phones. This was soon proven not to be the case, as other manufacturers already offer that exact service for free. BMW wanted to charge $80 a year (or $300 for a 240-month plan) after providing CarPlay free of charge for 12 months. Now, it will be gratis.
Cooperation between automakers is a good way to cope with rising costs but, if we’re being honest, it’s much more exciting when they don’t get along. Think about some of your favorite automobiles. Odds are good that they have a counterpart from another manufacturer they’re supposed to be warring with — Mustang vs Camaro, WRX STI vs Lancer Evolution, Camry vs Accord, Gremlin vs Pinto.
The best rivalries are between manufacturers, as those provide ample opportunity for snide marketing. If we had our druthers, automakers would be forced to compete in biannual gladiator-style competitions that open with scored trash talk. But dreams rarely come true; automotive bloodsports probably require a few years of heavy planning, too.
Luckily, industrial-grade insults aren’t something we have to wait for. To our delight, Daimler AG and BMW Group were going at it on Halloween.
Our big concern for Mini’s upcoming electric hatchback was that it wouldn’t have sufficient range to make sense in the United States. The company seemed to be more interested in producing a rambunctious urban runabout, rather than something that could serve as a do-anything, go-anywhere EV. But we figured we’d wait to see where BMW Group planned on pricing the thing before folding arms and furrowing brows.
As it turns out, the Mini Cooper SE’s starting MSRP will be $30,750 (including destination). While that undercuts the cost of some “rival” models by several grand, the Mini EV brings less to the party.
BMW has pulled the sheets off the new M variants for its line of X5 and X6 SUVs, addressing a horsepower issue that didn’t actually exist. With base models offering over 300 hp and top-trimmed units reaching 523 hp, it’s hard to imagine there being a write-in campaign pleading with the automaker for higher performance M models. But we aren’t going to complain.
The new versions outclass the old X5/X6 M’s 567 horsepower thanks to a 600-hp, TwinPower V8 on loan from the updated BMW M5. Competition models add even more might, taking the 4.4-liter S63 motor up to a lovely 625 horsepower. BMW has also fitted the units with an M-specific adaptive suspension it claims will further improve handling — not that the ludicrously heavy utilities weren’t already impressively nimble for their size.
BMW’s i3 has reached the end of its road. The manufacturer recently stated that the model will not be updated, adding that there’s no plan for a successor. Despite the oddball Bimmer serving as the technological basis for the Mini Electric slated to launch next year, the i3 is going to stick around in its current form until the company has no further use for it.
Released in 2013, the i3 was Bavaria’s first stab at a mass-market EV. While this author sees them routinely parked in coastal cities, they’re an anomaly elsewhere. Overt success has eluded the model in the United States, with annual sales dropping from a high of 11,024 units in 2015 to just 6,117 deliveries in 2018. This year’s U.S. sales look to be even weaker for the model.
Fortunately for BMW Group, European sales have been on the rise every year since the car’s introduction. Last year, that resulted in 24,252 deliveries for the region — with 2019 already positioned to surpass that figure easily.
The Justice Department has opened an antitrust probe into four automakers that formed a pact with California to compromise on tailpipe emissions, effectively circumventing federal regulators, last July.
Over the summer, Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., BMW AG and Volkswagen Group announced a joint agreement with the California Air Resources Board to adhere to fueling standards slightly lower than Obama-era rules but still significantly higher than the Trump administration’s proposal from 2018. The Justice Department is seeking to determine whether or not that qualifies as a violation of federal competition laws.
Superfans of BMW’s M subsidiary — or, more accurately, its cars — are in for some good news. The German automaker announced an extra special heritage edition of the M4 on Tuesday. Called the BMW M4 Edition ///M Heritage, and limited exclusively to the F82 coupe, the model is supposed to commemorate everything the M Division stands for.
While that absolutely includes making BMW money, the automaker has yet to provide the model with an MSRP. That said, its special nature will undoubtedly push it beyond the model’s $70,000 base price. It’s also limited to just 750 examples worldwide, which ought to tack on a premium of its own.