Opinion

‘BMW is working hard on its present as well as its future’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler is impressed at how BMW is still managing to produce such great combustion-engined cars while also focusing on its all-electric future

Opinion - BMW

Car makers don’t have a bottomless pit of money, time or talent, yet they’re expected to reinvent themselves as all-electric brands over a relatively short period of time, while still producing great cars that people want to buy and enjoy right now.

It’s no wonder the current vogue seems to be for setting up separate business units – or completely different companies – to deal with electrification. As Tesla has proven, it takes a different mindset, not to mention large bundles of cash, to be successful.

But the cash to spend on new stuff is only there if the current stuff is selling well. And the current stuff will only sell well if that, too, continues to get developed.

It’s a tough ask – there’s so much work to be done for the future without forgetting the present. And while some makers have already switched off development on internal combustion engines and talk of little else other than electrification, BMW is managing to blend the best of both worlds brilliantly – and better than most.

This week we see a revised 3 Series doing what the 3 Series has always done best – in petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid forms. It’s BMW’s biggest seller and hugely important in bringing in the cash that helps the brand to develop its fully electric range. Which, for the record, is brilliant, too – the i4 beat the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2 in a recent Auto Express test.

Earlier this week we also had a drive in a prototype version of the new XM, while we’ll shortly be able to tell you what the new M2 is like – in M’s 50th birthday year.

I wonder how BMW is managing to do it all, when there are clear examples of cost cutting at other brands. The new Mercedes S-Class, for example, has taken a step back in quality compared with its predecessors.

I may have been critical of BMW’s design work recently, but I’ve been impressed by how it isn’t forgetting the present when there’s so much pressure on its future.

Click here for our first taste of the new BMW XM...

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