(Adds background on electric car strategies of luxury auto
makers, Tesla Motors)
By Joseph White and Edward Taylor
Sept 30 German luxury auto maker BMW AG
said on Friday it will offer all electric versions of
its next generation BMW X3 compact sport utility vehicle and
electric Mini models, expanding its entries in the emerging
electric luxury vehicle market.
BMW confirmed a report earlier Friday by Bloomberg News.
Reuters reported on Sept. 9 that top BMW executives were
skipping Paris auto show events this week to resolve differences
over electric vehicle strategy and chart a new electric product
offensive, including a possible electric Mini.
The electric Mini is expected to debut in about three years,
company officials said.
BMW faces increasing pressure from German rivals Daimler AG
and Volkswagen AG as well as Tesla Motors
Inc of the United States, which have outlined
aggressive plans to court affluent buyers - and respond to
regulators - with new electric vehicles.
BMW moved earlier than its German rivals to field innovative
electric cars, launching the BMW i3 battery-powered city car in
2013 with a lightweight body made of carbon fiber instead of
steel or aluminum. However, the i3 and the plug-in hybrid i8
have been slow sellers.
Meanwhile, Tesla is aiming for sales of 80,000 or more
electric sedans and sport utility vehicles this year, and has
said that nearly 400,000 would-be buyers have placed
reservations for its Model 3 sedan. Tesla Chief Executive Elon
Musk has said he is targeting a July 2017 launch for the Model
Daimler and VW used this week's Paris auto show to promote
plans to launch new waves of electric vehicles.
Germany's luxury car champions face a convergence of
pressure to embrace electric vehicles from regulatory mandates
and from Tesla's success at winning affluent consumers to the
idea of premium electric vehicles.
In the United States, California and several other states
have adopted escalating quotas for sales of electric vehicles.
California's goal is that 15 per cent of vehicles sold in the
state in 2025 would be battery-powered.
Policymakers in China, the world's largest vehicle market, and
Europe are also calling for more electric vehicles.
(Reporting by Joe White in Detroit and Edward Taylor in Paris;
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Matthew Lewis)