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Sat 16 Feb 2019 11:03 AM

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Opinion: shaping future mobility will be electrifying

We will soon witness an era of automated, emission-free and fully connected urban mobility

Opinion: shaping future mobility will be electrifying
Clean energy Dubai’s plan will see thousands of electric cars ordered in the next few years by government departments

By 2030, more than 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities, which raises the central questions: How can we realise individual mobility in more and more densely populated urban areas? What concepts do we need to be able to organise traffic in a resource-efficient and climate-friendly manner?

The BMW Group has a very clear answer for that. When it comes to shaping future mobility, we consider the entire value chain, with the aim of making it as sustainable as possible. Protection of the environment is accorded just as much importance as social compatibility and commercial viability. The challenges of urban mobility, in particular, not only require different vehicle products, but also new kinds of mobility services. Flexibility is, therefore, the key to success.

Under the BMW i brand, as well as visionary vehicle concepts, the BMW Group offers innovative services and solutions to improve urban mobility. These intelligent, integrated services are not only seamlessly connected into everyday life, but also create synergies between themselves – from car-sharing to locating and using public charging stations to finding parking spaces.

The future of transport

There is one vehicle concept that currently underlines the leading role of the BMW Group in the future of mobility: the BMW Vision iNEXT. It is a great example for a concept car that represents the new era of sheer driving pleasure. Automated, emission-free and fully connected, it brings together the BMW Group’s strategic innovation fields into a vision vehicle for the first time and provides revealing answers to the question: What does a vehicle, which does not need to be driven by a person, but could, look like?

At the heart of such deliberations are, more than ever, people – with all their emotions and desires.

But the concept car will not only stay a vision. The BMW iNEXT series model will be launched in 2021 and builds resolutely on the idea that first took shape in 2007 with “project i” and evolved into the launch of the BMW i3 in 2013. The BMW Group has already achieved a great deal on this front: it now has over ten years of experience with electric mobility under its belt in both small-scale and large-scale production, the BMW i models are being improved all the time, and their technology is being employed to gradually electrify models from the BMW and MINI ranges. The next step now is the complete in-car integration of the strategic innovation fields: autonomy, connectivity, electric and services.

The design, meanwhile, is a visual expression of the innovation fields and answers the question about what the driving pleasure experience is going to look like in future.

But this is not all. By 2025, the BMW Group will be offering 25 models with electrified drive systems, 12 of which will be pure electric.

We sold more than 100,000 electrified vehicles in 2017 and the goal for 2018 is also clear: selling more than 140,000. By the end of 2019, we will have a total of half a million electric models and plug-in hybrids on the roads.

Urban mobility in the region

Since 2015, we have been offering our BMW i models in Jordan. And we had also introduced our first BMW iPerformance model, the BMW X5, in the same year. Nearly all other Middle East markets started launching the new plug-in-hybrid models as of 2017. And the signs are promising that we will also offer the BMW i3s in the UAE in 2019.

In line with our move to prepare for electrification, we will also open a state-of-the-art training centre in Dubai South at the beginning of 2019. It will be one out of only three BMW Group Training Centres across Europe and Asia to offer training to prepare our staff to service electrical vehicles. This will ensure our staff are future proofed for the innovations we are seeing across the world.

Recently, we also witnessed a growing preference towards ride-sharing solutions in the Middle East. Also an important topic in our strategy. In 2018, MINI Middle East partnered with ekar – the first and largest car share operator in the region – adding 15 MINIs to their fleet. And the project is very successful and promising for the future.

We are well prepared for the future not only globally but also here in the Middle East region. The BMW Group has more than 100 years of experience dealing with change. We do not shy away from any challenge even if the market situation is tough, and we work towards solutions and pave new roads to success.

We have the strength and confidence to see us through the current transformation. Our premium aspiration is to be at the forefront and I am convinced that with the biggest model offensive in our history, we can face all the challenges. Sooner or later, all our brands and model series are going electric and that also shows our consistency. And that’s the future.

Dr Hamid Haqparwar, Managing Director, BMW Group Middle East

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