BMW M is currently developing its first full electric M car and is exploring new features that could connect it to the past. The big news is that this could mean the current generation M3 will be the last ICE powered M3 ever. Could BMW M successfully build a new M3 that feels as driver focused as past generations?
On a recent tour of Australia, BMW M boss Frank van Meel told Drive “while an electric M3/M4 platform remained an option, the company would only consider it if represented an improvement over the outgoing generation.”
“Well, the logic is quite easy,” van Meel told Drive at a recent launch of several BMW M models. “The next M3 or M4 has to be better than the current one. And if that can be done in an electric way, then probably it will go electric.
“If not, we will stay with combustion engine. It’s quite easy. But of course we’re trying to make that happen as pure electric.”
Van Meel clarified that BMW M wasn’t interested in having multiple versions of the M3 or M4 like a ICE, hybrid and EV; “I don’t think all three options. That will be a little bit too far,” van Meel told Drive. “Actually, we would like to offer just one. But you never know.”
How to Add Excitement to an Electric BMW M3
The major issue that many enthusiasts have with EV’s isn’t performance but the lack of visceral experience they deliver. Answering that critique, the Albert Biermann led Hyundai N Division has developed a simulated 8 speed dual clutch for its new Ioniq 5 N hoping to bring connectivity into the experience.
“One of the solutions might be to simulate gears or to have another acoustic feedback or even vibrations as a feedback. And those are things we’re looking into.”Frank van Meel, Head of BMW M
When asked by Australia’s Which Car magazine about that concept van Meel said; “I like the way they think. If you need eight gears, I’m not sure. But it’s one solution because what’s really clear is that if you drive on the track, and we always come from racing with M, there’s no time to look at the speedometer to see how fast you are going.“
“So what you do is: you know the gear you’re in and you hear and feel the engine, and from the corner of your eye you can see the shifting lights if you’re approaching maximum revs. So actually, you always know I’m ‘in third gear.’ There’s no need to look down into the speedometer and if you look down two cars pass by you.
“So you need that feedback because if you’re driving in an electric car with just one gear, making some kind of sound over seven octaves, you don’t know if you’re in the middle [of the revs] and if that’s the equal to 145km/h or wherever you are. So that actually will not work. And we need a solution for that.”
“And one of the solutions might be to simulate gears or to have another acoustic feedback or even vibrations as a feedback. And those are things we’re looking into.”
While BMW already makes several M Performance EVs, van Meel says a full-blown M car is more challenging to create.
“On the M Performance cars it’s possible because it’s giving more performance to series production cars. But for high performance models its a little bit more complicated because we’re not only building cars that are developed on the race track, actually they should perform on the race track and that’s a little bit more complicated.”
“Repeatability of performance, thermal management of the battery and motors, and keeping weight as low as possible are key challenges” says van Meel.
When will we see the first BMW M EV? He’s expectedly a little cagey but went on to say “It’s going to take a couple of years until it comes, but it’s going to take place this decade.”