A quartet of all-new plug-in hybrid (PHEV) BMWs are set to arrive in Australia over the next two years, broadening the German automaker's range of electrified offerings and making true zero-emissions motoring a possibility for more drivers.
While BMW's current range (pun fully intended) includes electrified versions of the 3 Series mid-sized sedan, 7 Series limousine and X5 large SUV, the new-generation of PHEVs will offer a significantly increased pure electric range.
Not only that, but the line-up will be further bolstered by a new iPerformance variant of the X3 small SUV, taking the total number of PHEV BMWs to four locally, plus the i3 and i8 BMWi offerings.
Speaking at the launch of the 2019 3 Series, BMW Australia CEO Vikram Pawah confirmed the quartet of plug-ins and reiterated the company’s promise to introduce 20 electrified offerings globally by 2020.
“We've raised our hand and said we will be interested,” he said. “Whether we bring all of them or not will depend on each segment that we evaluate as we go along. We will be bringing the X5, the 7 Series, the 3 Series and the X3.”
While the existing 330e, 740e and X5 40e offer pure electric drive, the new generation of hybrid drivetrains have adopted more advanced battery technology, packing more energy capacity - and thus range - into the same package.
“A lot of people won't know that an average daily commute is 32 kilometres. A lot of people get surprised when you say that.
“A new generation of electrics that are coming and were showcased at the Geneva motor show all have a pure electric range of 50 to 60 kilometres.”
But while offering more choice in Australia’s unique market is part of the battle to win over an as-yet small EV audience, infrastructure will become crucial.
Unlike Tesla, for example, which has its own bespoke network of charging stations, Pawah said the BMW approach to infrastructure will be more cooperative.
“We are looking at that but I don't think it can be done alone by any manufacturer,” he said. “Experience tells us that it's a collaborative model between the government, energy providers and the manufacturers. Then it becomes a self-sustaining solution.”
The German manufacturer’s strategy will be closely monitored by arch rivals Audi and Mercedes as they develop their own fleets of PHEVs and pure electric vehicles.
From the three-pointed star, a pure electric EQC mid-sized SUV will arrive later this year joining the plug-in GLE 500e and E350e large sedan.
Meanwhile Audi will lob its pure electric E-Tron mid-sized SUV mid-year to join the Q7 e-tron large SUV PHEV.
BMW has yet to announce a direct rival to Audi and Mercedes’ pure EV SUVs, however, leaving the i3 small hatchback to carry the mantle as the company’s sole battery-only offering for now.