BMW’s high-performance M cars are likely to adopt some form of electrification from 2021 in order to give additional performance whilst also meeting ever stringent emission regulations.
Speaking to Australian motoring media at the Frankfurt motor show, Klaus Fröhlich, member of the board of management at BMW, said that once battery technology and electric motors are light and compact enough, they will make sense for implementation on BMW M vehicles.
“Performance cars will maintain ICE (internal combustion engine), going forward for a very long time. There are enough markets that don’t have the infrastructure or will not be interested [due to low fuel costs]… What we are working on is, it would perfectly suit an M car to have boost and recuperation from an E-motor, to give that 100 or 150kW extra [power].
The addition of such technologies is risky, however, as BMW M cars have very specific requirements and that cannot alter regardless of the additional methods of propulsion.
“On 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, and I invite you to do this with some battery electric vehicles from our competitors around the Nurburgring and we talk again.”
As such, any form of electrification cannot come at the expense of driving dynamics or performance durability, according to Fröhlich.
“We have to be very careful to achieve it with as less weight as possible. So the car still performs on the Nurburgring like it used to.”
The electrification of BMW M vehicles is unlikely to occur until at least 2021, due to the technical challenges currently at hand.
“For these M cars to have 150kW or more and have a lightweight battery I have to develop a new cell chemistry, so it will take to 2021 until we have the E motor which is very compact because it has to fit into the package and I need a very advanced, a very advanced battery for that car.”
Like the new BMW M5, the vehicles that electrification makes sense for will likely adopt a form of all-wheel drive.
"I work very hard on the tune of this drive because an M car has to be neutral, when you accelerate a little more it has to go into defined oversteer. When we get this crisp behaviour we can extend it but the other thing is we made the M5 less weight than the predecessor and included AWD so it's fine."
The internal combustion engine seems to be very much alive and still in development for the range of M cars at BMW, but do high-performance vehicles need hybridisation?