BMW has commenced work on its first pure-electric car from the M performance division, but the M3 and M4 are safe for now.
The first M-fettled product from BMW’s expanding EV range will be a version of the i4, first previewed as a concept in March 2020.
Flasch didn’t elaborate on the upgrades in store, but gave a telling hint, referring to distinct performance and high-performance segments, which suggest positioning not dissimilar to the current split between cars that wear the M Performance handle like the M340i and M550i, and full M cars like the M3 and M5.
“Next year we will launch the first battery-electric M car in the performance segment, based on the i4, as something to confirm,” Flasch revealed. “Then we’re working on hybrid electrified performance and high-performance cars, but it is too early to disclose which ones it is going to be.”
Preliminary specifications for the i4 concept suggested M-rivalling performance was a given, though how those stats translate into a full range of vehicles remains to be seen.
Initially, the concept’s 390kW output and 0-100km/h acceleration looked set to put the M3 and M4 on notice. BMW’s official time stamp sees the manual M3 and M4 hit 100km/h in 4.1 seconds, while the automatic Competition models take 3.9-seconds, with outputs of 353kW and 375kW respectively.
READ: 2021 M3 AND M4 REVEALED
But, according to Flasch, the battery technology required to handle the rigours of a BMW high performance car don’t yet match M’s expectations.
“On the high performance battery electric technology, there is still some time that we need until technology is ready and can take it on with an existing high performance car, like an M3 or M4,” he said. “This will take some more time, but we’re working on that.”
When asked about the performance potential and relative tunability of the electric powertrain, Flasch revealed that acceleration was only one part in shaping a potential electric high performance model.
“It’s not just about power output and longitudinal performance. So, the question for us is, when can we combine the power of the systems that we develop in the company, and bring it into an M package?”
“Steering-wise and lateral dynamics-wise, this is the big question. Sound, of course, is another one.”
“That is something where we have science going on, to create the M-specific feeling, but first of all, the biggest question to answer is how to handle weight of a battery electric car and still offer M-specific, or M-style, dynamics.”
When questioned as to how the M-prepared i4 might compare to the just-launched M3 and M4, Flasch ruled out any competition between the two model lines. Reaffirming the positioning of the first M-badged EV as a performance, rather than high performance model, and therefore one rung below the full-blood M cars on the BMW performance ladder.