BMW bets on iNext in sales race with Mercedes

BMW bets on iNext in sales race with Mercedes

MUNICH — BMW offered a glimpse of its futuristic self-driving iNext car as the automaker seeks to gain momentum in the race to overtake rival Mercedes-Benz in luxury sales.

The company will offer a more concrete concept of the vehicle this year, CEO Harald Krueger said Thursday at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. More models will follow the iNext that is due to enter showrooms in 2021, Krueger said.

“For the first time, we are combining all key technologies for future mobility,” Krueger said. “The iNext is fully electric, fully connected, and enables safe, partially autonomous driving.”

BMW is looking to rekindle consumer excitement after a few subdued years during which Mercedes took the lead in luxury vehicle sales with a revamped model lineup featuring vehicles such as the GLC crossover and a reworked sporty A class.

Through April, BMW’s global brand sales grew 2.5 percent, while Mercedes’ registrations surged 13 percent.

To recapture its drive, BMW is bringing out a record 40 new and freshened models, half of which will come to market this year with a focus on popular crossovers such as the all-new X2 compact.

BMW released this sketch of the iNext concept.

As the company rolls out its record model offensive, it is also ramping up its EV production in the face of increased pressure to meet emissions targets.

To finance the costly investment spree that’s raising r&d outlays to a record 7 billion euros ($ 8.3 billion), BMW is bookending its push with high-end vehicles such as the 8 series, which will be available in six derivatives including the M8 Gran Coupe.

“In a complex, fast-paced world, there are no easy answers,” said Krueger. “Commercial success cannot be taken for granted — especially over the long term.”

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