Whenever asked about an electric M car, BMW execs have consistently insisted such a thing is a long way off. However, it seems one might be arriving a lot sooner than expected.
In its sales report for 2020 (we’ll get back to that later), M Division dropped in some official confirmation of its plug-in plans. “During the year 2021, the BMW M GmbH will be presenting an electrically powered performance automobile for the first time,” the press release notes.
Our understanding is this won’t be a full-fat M car, rather something more of the M135i/M340i/M550i ilk. These cars were previously considered to be ‘M Performance’ machines, but BMW now has them all under the M GmbH banner.
A likely candidate for the M-ish treatment is the i4, due to be fully revealed later this year. An M-enhanced i4 may well be launched alongside the standard car, mirroring what BMW has done for much of its internal combustion-engined cars revealed over the last few years.
The near-production-ready Concept i4 is already a pokey thing, producing 523bhp and dispatching 0-62mph in four seconds dead despite having to cart around a 550kg battery pack. It shouldn’t be too hard to turn the wick up a little further, and with a low centre of gravity, the car should respond well to chassis tweaks.
The controversially-styled iX crossover (below), similarly powerful to the Concept i4 in its standard guise, could also be a candidate. Whichever gets there first in semi-M form, BMW is promising “a completely new manifestation of the distinctive M feeling.”
With these EV plans plus a market launch for the M3 and M4 happening imminently, 2021 is set to be a big year for M. 2020 worked out nicely, with the outfit growing its sales by six per cent to 144,218 units despite a global pandemic suppressing the new car market. Arch rival Mercedes-AMG, for comparison, saw its sales shrink by five per cent to 125,129.