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2016 Paris Motor Show: BMW tips 2020 as the year of the electric boom

By Toby Hagon, 01 Oct 2016 Car News

BMW charging

BMW prepares for change as it predicts a “big rise” in electric car sales.

BMW board member Ian Robertson is predicting 2020 will be the time when sales of electric vehicles finally hit the big time.

Speaking at the Paris Motor Show, the head of sales and marketing at the German luxury giant nominated 2020 as the year when there will be “a big rise” in sales of EVs.

“We think the percentages with rise,” said Robertson, who listed BMW’s next big step in electric cars as 2021.

“We said that the next big milestone [from BMW] is going to come in 2021 but we will progressively announce other electric vehicles. We’re intent on keeping our leading position,” he said, referencing the company’s recent announcement it had sold 100,000 electric and hybrid cars (the i3, i8 and 330e and X5 40e are the current electric or partial electric offerings from BMW).

BMW i3

Robertson said electrification would touch all parts of the company’s broad product range.

“Technology is spreading through both brand bookends,” he said, referring to the “i” electric sub-brand and the M performance sub-brand. “That’s why we have a lot of M products with M Sport and M Performance models. We have now i and iPerformance, and this will now spread through the mother brand.”

Robertson said the push towards connectivity and electric propulsion was changing the company.

“No doubt about it, we’re one of the world’s, if not the most successful automotive company and we’re rapidly becoming a tech company.”

He also referred to the likes of Tesla and Apple – the tech giant rumoured to be developing an autonomous car – as changing the shape of the automotive industry.

BMW i8 front side

“I don’t underestimate any current competitors or any future competitors,” said Robertson. “I’m absolutely sure that in this era we’re now entering there will be a lot of new players.

“There will be players who are trying to occupy a service area, there will be players who maybe come with maybe an electric vehicle.

“At the end of the day that competition is healthy, that’s good for this industry, this industry is vibrant, it’s still moving forward and part of that is the competitive landscape. So let’s not frown on it, let’s embrace it and let’s move this industry forward because it’s got huge potential.”

Despite the high-tech push, Robertson said the combustion engine was here for a long time yet.

BMW futuristic interior

“For the foreseeable the combustion engine has still got the majority of the sales or at least some form of hybridisation in there.”

As for when electric cars will overtake traditional internal combustion engines, he said it would depend on a range of factors, from geography to infrastructure and government policies.

“I don’t think it’ll be consistent all around the world or even within countries from urban to non-urban environments,” said Robertson.