BMW is making a bold push for electric cars, but CEO Harald Krueger said it’s not enough to just go electric.
In a Monday interview with Automotive News, Krueger said the next addition to its electric i series car line, the iNext, will have self-driving capabilities.
“When the iNext is on the market, it will not be enough, in my view, that you just have an electric drivetrain,” he said. “You need to have autonomous driving available.”
Automobile Mag first reported in August that BMW was working on Project iNext: the German automaker’s commitment to release an all-electric car with self-driving capabilities by 2021. By 2025, the Project iNext car will be fully autonomous.
Krueger’s remark speak to a larger trend in the automotive industry. As Business Insider’s Matt Debord points out, more companies are going all-in on self-driving tech. It offers a solution to traffic congestion and automobile accidents. It will also mean fewer cars on the road, which could help slow global warming. The tech behind self-driving cars also seems to be accelerating faster than battery chemistry.
That’s why many automakers’ electric car plans tend to have a driverless component — it’s a sexier package than an electric car alone. Especially considering the EV space has yet to gain real traction, with electric cars making up roughly 1% of global auto sales
General Motors said its fleet of self-driving cars will be electric and launch on the Lyft platform. GM has invested $500 million in Lyft and acquired self-driving start-up Cruise Automation. Tesla also recently introduced the hardware being built into the Model X, Model S, and future Model 3 that will improve Autoilot and allow Tesla’s electric cars to be fully driverless.
BMW said it will launch its self-driving vehicles in China in 2021. The company is working with Mobileye, a former Tesla Autopilot supplier, and Intel to develop its self-driving vehicles. BMW is also working to complete a ride-sharing program for driverless cars by 2021, Wired reported.
BMW will also roll out the first electric version of its Mini car in 2019, followed by an electric version of its BMW X3 in 2020, Bloomberg reported.