FOCUS ON: BMW
BMW has been quicker off the mark with its range of hybrids and all-electric vehicles than many big-name car makers. Better still, the breadth of choice for business drivers is set to expand further over the next few years, as BMW rushes to bring 12 plug-in and fully electric vehicles to market by 2023.
✪ STAR CAR ✪
WHAT IS IT? BMW’s latest plug-in hybrid saloon
WHAT’S IT POWERED BY?
A punchy turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol and an electric motor, with a combined power output of 292hp.
RANGE ON A CHARGE? The all-electric range is more thank 30 miles and the total range is 372 miles
IS IT TAX-EFFICIENT? There’s still some debate as to how the 2020/21 tax rates will be implemented for plug-in hybrids, but the 330e will be in a much lower BIK band than the equivalent diesel. With a relatively low P11D from £37,820, the 330e offers big savings for company car drivers.
THE ‘I’S HAVE IT
As long ago as 2011, BMW founded the ‘i’ sub-brand for plug-in electric vehicles. The i3 was the first to market in late 2013, with a choice of pure electric and range extender versions (with a petrol engine to top up the batteries if required). The i3 was followed by the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car in 2014. Both remain part of the BMW range today, although the extended family of ‘i’ models that BMW was expected to launch has been somewhat slower to appear in showrooms. However, the brand has added a sportier version of the i3, the i3S, and a Roadster version of the i8. The i3 range reached passed the milestone of 10,000 UK registrations in 2018.
For the 2019 model year, BMW dropped the i3 Range Extender. In effect, the safety net of petrol power was made redundant by improved battery life for the regular car, which now achieves 182-188 miles on a single charge (WLTP). The i3S has a slightly shorter range (173-175 miles) as the trade-off for sportier performance. It has 184hp rather than 170hp, which means the 0-62mph time drops by half a second to 6.9 seconds. Tax-wise, both the i3 and i3S have no exhaust emissions, and so will sit in the 0% BIK bracket for 2020/21. With a P11D of £35,295 versus £37,785 for the i3S, it’s the regular model which will cost less in tax each month once we get into future tax years.
‘EV’S ARE GOOD
Alongside the i3 and i8, BMW has launched electrified versions of its conventional models, denoted by their ‘e’ badging.
The best known are the 330e (see panel) and 530e, both of which have recently been updated. These plug-in hybrids deliver the benefits of low BIK rates, long range and are more conventional styling than the self-consciously different i3.
DIESEL DO NICELY
They may not have the green credentials of the hybrids and pure EVs, but many of BMW’s conventionally powered cars have low emissions compared with their rivals. For example, the 320d M Sport emits 113g/km of carbon dioxide. That compares with 117g/km for an equivalent Mercedes-Benz C-Class, 120g/km for an Audi A4 and 130g/km for the Jaguar XE.
With a combination of plug-ins, EVs and efficient conventional models, BMW is well placed to provide a variety of low-emission vehicles for fleets.
There’s plenty more to come. After announcing that it would have 25 electrified models by 2025, BMW now expects to achieve that target by 2023.
The next all-electric car is the production version of the iX3 Concept, due in 2020. The new SUV will rival the Audi e-tron and Jaguar I-Pace, and means there will be conventionally powered, plug-in hybrid, and pure electric models within the X3 range.
BMW is also pursuing hydrogen power, with the i Hydrogen NEXT concept car revealed last month.
BMW continues to be a standard setter in the UK company car market and the new 3-Series is one of the hottest new cars of 2019. The new car has made improvements in the key areas without losing the driver and badge appeal that put it at the top of the class.
Posted by Company Car Today on Wednesday, 2 October 2019