2017 Frankfurt Motor Show: BMW’s electrification to extend to M cars

M cars to become plug-in hybrids when tech is light and durable enough

BMW’s electrification to extend to M cars

We’re likely still a generation away, but when battery technology is up to speed, some BMW M cars will be too, thanks to plug-in hybrid kick.

How big, you ask? Try a whole engine’s worth of instantaneous oomph.

Former chief engineer, and now member of the BMW board, Klaus Frohlich, stressed the importance of any M car’s exalted positioning in the BMW line-up, as well as the continued importance of the internal combustion engine.

“In Australia, I assume you will have petrol engines for a very, very long time … [and] we’ll have M cars [for a] very, very long [time], and they will be quite exciting, I can tell you.”

“But, for example, what we’re working on would perfectly fit for an M car – to have boost and recuperation. To have [an] e-motor which gives this instantaneous boost – 100kW extra, or 150kW extra – but we have to be very careful to achieve it with as less weight as possible. That the car still performs on the Nurburgring like we’re used to.”

A key to achieving this feat is the extremely compact, high-performance battery technology that will debut in the production version of BMW’s ‘i Vision Dynamics’ four-door Frankfurt Show concept in 2021. “We will have battery-electric vehicles [that] will be high-performance cars, [and] they will be the ‘i’ brand. But on the M cars I’m more focusing to add [what] I call a power PF. Some boost on combustion engines for the M cars”.

Even though Frohlich claims that BMW performance cars will retain some form of petrol diet “for a very long time”, he’s adamant that plug-in hybrid makes a lot of sense for the M brand, with a caveat.

“In an M car, we have very stringent requirements. It has to survive several laps on the Nurburgring without reducing performance, without reducing brake performance, and so on and so forth.”

However, it won’t be until electrical systems – “more than 48-volt … if you want to have that 150kW boost” – and the cell chemistry of very lightweight, very compact batteries begin to marry with BMW’s M ethos that we’ll see a plug-in-hybrid on the showroom floor. “I need a very advanced battery for the M cars”, says Frohlich. “[And] it will take until ’21 until we have the e-motor which is very compact because it has to fit into the package.”

As for the arrival of all-wheel drive in the latest M5, is that a portent to offering a similar drive system in the next-generation M3/M4? Frohlich doesn’t think so, though BMW is yet to rule it out … providing the car doesn’t start to get fat.

“We made the [new] M5 [weigh] less than its predecessor and included AWD, [so] then it’s fine. I hate cars that are becoming heavy. The M3/M4 is an icon. It has to be very pure … but I will not exclude [AWD] yet. I think [ultimately] the customer will decide. We are flexible you know because the base cars always have that [AWD capability built-in].”


How are you finding our new site design? Tell us in the comments below or send us your thoughts at feedback@whichcar.com.au.


Subscribe to Wheels magazine

Subscribe to Wheels Magazine and save up to 44%
Get your monthly fix of news, reviews and stories on the greatest cars and minds in the automotive world.



Nathan Ponchard

We recommend


GWM sales targets supply

Great Wall Motors aims to triple sales, deems supply no issue

Growing Chinese manufacturer reveals ambitious sales goals and expanded product pipeline

8 hours ago
Louis Cordony
Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.