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Here’s why BMW’s go-fast M division hasn’t released an electric car yet

From Mazda to Ford, sports car manufacturers are looking for ways to electrify their quickest, most emblematic models during the 2020s. BMW’s high-performance M division also tossed its hat into this ring, but it concluded the technology isn’t ready yet, and it’s not willing to make a compromise solely to make headlines.

Developing a battery-powered sports car that handles as well as it accelerates is easier said than done. The biggest problems engineers encounter is that a sports car needs to be light and nimble to deliver engaging handling, and a battery pack adds a huge amount of weight that can’t easily be offset. That’s why BMW M doesn’t see an electric car in its immediate future.

Speaking to Australian website CarsGuide, BMW M product manager Carsten Pries confirmed the company will continue making gasoline-powered cars for quite some time. “It’s not easy to predict when [electric technology] will be ready for us, and good enough for us,” he elaborated. He added he’s watching the technology very closely.

It’s not that BMW doesn’t have an electric powertrain in its arsenal; the company beat most of its rivals to the punch when it released the i3 in 2013, and it’s in the final stages of developing its next-generation battery-powered drivetrain for a new range of cars that will include an X5-sized SUV previewed by the iNext concept, and a 3 Series-like sedan tentatively named i4. Both strike a balance between comfort and performance; BMW M is firmly planted on the sporty side of the spectrum.

“Today, BEVs carry a lot of weight with them, therefore the technology would be more appropriate if the weight of the batteries came down,” he explained. McLaren is in a similar situation, and it separately came to the same conclusion. Ford cited weight concerns when asked about the possibility of making a higher-performance Mach-E, too.

And while Pries told CarsGuide he’s impressed by the Porsche Taycan, he added it plays in a different league than anything that comes out of BMW M’s workshop. “We look at Porsche, but the key factor is what do we stand for, and we’re very much about motorsport, so the decision to build an EV would have to suit that image,” he concluded. Never say never, though.

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Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
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