BMW will reportedly drop the 8 Series after the G15 generation

It looks like the age of exploring an infinite number of niches may well be over for BMW, as the company is aiming to cull the number of models and variants in its lineup, per Automobile. Munich is apparently trying to stem the haemorrhaging of its profits, after earnings last year fell 22% to €6.2 billion (RM28.5 billion) and its return of investment from 9.2% to 7.2%.

The company warned of a further decline to between 4.5 and 6.5%, which the publication put down not just to tariffs from the escalating trade war between the United States and China, but also investments that include new factories in Hungary and Mexico, the expansion of production capacity in China and the US and the conversion of existing factories to build electrified models. The management has also put aside €1.4 billion (RM6.4 billion) for a pending EU antitrust violation penalty.

This has sent alarm bells ringing over at BMW, and that’s before you consider the fact that its fleet-wide average emissions figure needs to be reduced by 25% by 2021 – or it risks incurring punitive fines. As such, it needs to ramp up its rollout of plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicles, and find a way to offset the losses caused by the declining interest in diesel vehicles (a fallout of Volkswagen’s emissions cheating scandal).

The recently-introduced BMW Z4 (left) and the 6 Series Gran Turismo (right)
are also not expected to live on beyond a single generation

To do so, its chief financial officer Nicolas Peter is planning to save nearly €13 billion (RM60 billion) from now until end-2022, through using simulation instead of prototyping to speed up the research and development process, trimming the number of engine and equipment variants (dropping every second option) and preparing the company for the introduction of its new electric vehicle, the iNEXT.

Models to be cut include the 1 Series three-door, 2 Series Gran Tourer and Convertible, 3 and 6 Series Gran Turismo and the standard-wheelbase 7 Series. Those aren’t big surprises, but the cull will also include cars only recently introduced and meant to signal a return to BMW’s driver-oriented focus, like the Z4 and the 8 Series Coupé and Convertible – although the four-door Gran Coupé is expected to soldier on.

These cars will make way for the X8, a bespoke performance SUV – not just an X7 in a low-slung “coupé” form, as the name implies. The report suggests that the new car will only be offered in M Performance and full-fat X8 M versions, the latter expected to receive BMW M’s PHEV powertrain that adds a 168 hp/249 Nm electric motor and a 60 kWh battery for an all-electric range of up to 100 km.

The discontinued cars will make way for the iNEXT electric vehicle

Also confirmed is a replacement for the i3, this time as a more conventional offering compared to the original carbon fibre-bodied model, and slated to be offered both as an EV and as a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. A smaller, lighter i8 replacement is also on the cards, with a more powerful 340 hp 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine and a 150 kW (201 hp) electric motor delivering a combined 544 hp. Even quicker i8 M and i9 models were mooted but have supposedly been taken off the drawing board.

Automobile also uncovered some initial details of the iNEXT, which will reportedly be badged the i6 and offered in three variants. The base model will be rear-wheel drive, powered by a single 250 kW (335 hp) motor and delivering a range of 460 km from a 63 kWh battery, while the mid-range model will come with all-wheel drive from twin motors, a total output of 320 kW (429 hp) and a range of 560 km from a 92 kWh battery.

At the top of the range will be a performance model with a 50 kW (201 hp) front motor and a 250 kW (335 hp) rear motor for a total of 536 hp. It’s said to be capable of getting from zero to 100 km/h in just 2.8 seconds, all while delivering a claimed range of 600 km from a 103 kWh battery. An even more powerful i6s will also be offered, with a 115 kWh battery.