Economy, Auto

BMW Targets 50% Rise in Hybrid Sales

The company is planning to sell 150,000 plug-in hybrid and battery cars in 2018.The company is planning to sell 150,000 plug-in hybrid and battery cars in 2018.

BMW AG is targeting another ambitious hike in plug-in hybrid and battery car sales next year to defend its position in the electric-car shift as competitors like Volkswagen AG ready their own battery lineups.

The planned increase to about 150,000 cars sold would represent a 50% rise from this year, and a jump of about two-thirds from last year’s deliveries of green cars, Bloomberg reported.

BMW, an early mover in the electric-car shift with 2013’s i3, is facing increasing competition from rivals like Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen.

“We will definitely boost sales by a mid-double digit amount,’’ Klaus Froehlich, who heads development for BMW, told reporters in Munich. “This is to stay ahead of the competition that is starting to do its own rollout.”

Faced with tightening emissions regulation, BMW and other carmakers are spending record amounts developing a more attractive suite of electric cars to kick-start sluggish consumer sales.

The payoff remains uncertain, as high battery prices will squeeze returns compared to equivalent combustion engine vehicles -- at least for a number of years. Demand for the vehicles remains at a fraction of total auto sales, with BMW’s target paling compared to its total 2016 deliveries of 2.4 million vehicles.

To help pay for the shift, BMW will start sales next year of the all-new X7 SUV and 8-Series coupe, priced at around $119,000.

“Our goal for the luxury segment in the next few years is taking more market share,’’ Chief Executive Officer Harald Krueger said in speech notes, adding, “In 2018, we’re significantly enlarging our offering in this lucrative growth segment.”

BMW’s electric push coincides with the biggest transformation for the industry in decades, drawing in a host of new competitors like Tesla Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. BMW last month flagged it will spend €7 billion on research and development this year, as much as 2011 and 2012 taken together.

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