At its annual shareholders meeting, BMW AG chief executive Harald Krueger said that the 100-year-old company’s iNext will serve as the centerpiece in its attempt to maintain prominence in the luxury car market. To be launched in 2021, the iNext will replace the 7-Series sedan as BMW’s flagship offering.
“We have always stressed that our centenary is a springboard to the future” Krueger stated. The iNext is designed to serve as “our new innovation driver, with autonomous driving, digital connectivity, intelligent lightweight design, a totally new interior and ultimately bringing the next generation of electro-mobility to the road.”
The iNext will arrive eight years after the 2013 introduction of the brand’s i3 electric-powered city car and several years after luxury EV offerings will be introduced from segment competitors Audi and Mercedes-Benz. In addition to needing to respond to efforts from its longstanding rivals, BMW will also face new pressure in the form of Tesla’s forthcoming Model 3 and a product entry anticipated from Apple Inc.
Investors have been critical of BMW’s inability to expand its presence in the EV market after innovating in areas such as large scale production of carbon fiber chassis for the i3 and i8. Shareholders maintain that BMW allowed eight years to pass from the introduction of the i3 while upstart manufacturers like Tesla have captivated customers and secured deposits to reserve 400,000 units of its Model 3.
As BMW focuses on the challenges of the increasingly competitive EV market, it has also been forced to confront the reality of ceding its ranking as the world’s top selling luxury car brand. For the first time since 2005, Mercedes eclipsed BMW in sales during the first quarter of 2016.