BMW to Electrify Entire Lineup (Report)

BMW i8 Electric Car - H 2014

BMW i8 Electric Car - H 2014

Tightening European emission standards and Tesla Motors' ongoing success are prodding BMW and other luxury automakers to make plug-in cars a priority.

In a move that underscores the importance of electric cars to the futures of automakers, BMW will convert its entire lineup to electric or plug-in hybrid power plants over the next 10 years, according to Green Car Reports.

The cars would be driven by separate electric motors powering the front and rear wheels. A small gasoline engine would be used to generate electricity to extend the range of the batteries.

BMW has been the most aggressive among German automakers about embracing electric cars, having invested billions in Project i, a separate division dedicated to building alternative-fuel vehicles in eco-friendly factories to future-proof the marque in the face of tightening emission standards and dwindling natural resources.

The first two cars from BMW's i division — the $43,000 i3 electric  and $135,000 i8 supercar — went on sale last year. As of June, the i3 was the fourth best-selling electric in the U.S. with deliveries of 3,095 cars, according to evobsession.

BMW's changeover to electric power plants is expected to coincide with the 2021 expiration of the current European Union emissions standards, which are more stringent that those in the U.S.

Tesla Motors' Model S and Model X crossover SUV, expected this fall, have proven there is a market for upscale electric cars, which is partly behind BMW's entrance into the market and that of Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Audi — all of which plan to introduce electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles in the next three years to compete with Tesla.

Since its introduction in 2012, the Model S has become Hollywood's default status car, driven by Steven Spielberg, Don Cheadle, James Cameron, Zooey Deschanel and Jeffrey Katzenberg, among others. More than 20,000 customers have placed $5,000 deposits on the Model X, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk pledges will be introduced this fall after repeated delays.

The battle for lower end of the electric vehicle market heated up this week when General Motors released prototype images of its Bolt electric car, which will cost about $30,000 and compete directly with Tesla's own mass-market electric, the Model 3, due in 2018. The fact that GM is already flaunting its prototype may indicate that the Bolt will beat the Model 3 to market, the Wall Street Journal reported