Forty new or revised models from 2017 to 2018, new drivetrain technologies and autonomous driving, more research and development, and a heavy emphasis on internal financing. These are just some of the things that Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, mentioned during his statement on BMW's strategy for the coming year. It's a very exciting step forward for the brand, and it promises to make BMW more competitive in this fast evolving automotive landscape.
New or revised models are par for the course, and the quoted "forty" is a lot less impressive when you realized that the majority are either revisions or facelifts. For example, the new 8 Series and M8 models are effectively the next step forward for what was the 6 Series and M6 respectively. The number will likely include iPerformance variants as well, which are just electrified variants of regular BMW products. 2018 is just Phase II of their plan, and it will include products like the Rolls-Royce Phantom, i8 Roadster, X7, and the new X4.
What is important are the steps forward in terms of drivetrains. We know BMW is headed towards electrification, as are most of the automotive manufacturers in Europe, but it's the steps that they're taking that are worth noting. All electrified BMWs will be repositioned under the BMW i brand, much like M performance models are under the M brand. BMW has managed to secure naming rights for i1 to i9, as well as an up-and-coming iX1 to iX9 for their electrified SAVs (SUVs to the rest of the world).
BMW will have their 100,000th electrified vehicle delivered before Christmas this year, adding to a figure that now totals 200,000 electrified BMWs on the road- over 90,000 of which are the all-electric BMW i3. Part of the accelerated rate of electrification are new offerings from BMW across the range, from their MINI models to the 7 Series. Over 80% of their customers that opt for the i3 and i8 are conquest customers, which speaks volumes about market acceptance for electrified cars.
For 2018, BMW is willing to increase investment on research and development in the fields of electrification and autonomous driving, from 6% to between 6.5% and 7% of revenue. This is necessary to stay on track with their roadmap: 2019 will see the all-electric MINI, 2020 will see a battery-electric BMW X3, and 2021 will see the launch of the BMW iNEXT. In ther short term, they are focusing on developing infrastructure as well to support their electric cars, helping to establish a European high-power charging network known as Ionity. The upcoming BMW 530e iPerformance will have inductive charging for even great convenience.
On the note of automation, there are over 2,000 engineers working at their Unterschleißheim campus on that particular field- in addition to various engineers around the world, whether within BMW or affiliated with the brand through investments or partnerships. BMW already has autonomous test vehicles out on the road, but by the end of 2018 there will be 40 BMW 7 Series being autonomously driven around Munich, California, and Israel. It's a race between the German automakers to see who is going to launch a holistic, fully developed autonomous product first.
Let's sum it up. Through 2018, BMW is going to up their investment on developing electrified and autonomous products, leading up to the iNEXT in 2021. In the mean time, they'll be launching numerous revised or all-new models, on both the performance and efficiency ends of the spectrum. With naming rights secure for BMW i, you can be assured that over the next decade or so we'll see a range of highly efficient, all-electric products across all market segments- perhaps even pulling a fair share of customers over from the regular BMW product line.