BMW NZ set for an electrifying future

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Words: Peter Louisson
19 Sep 2019

In challenging economic times, BMW New Zealand is making strategic changes, investing in bricks and mortar, adding electrified models and appointing Pead PR to handle communications. The firm will be busy as BMW and Mini together have a raft of new models incoming, with electrification key to both brands heading into the 2020s.

BMW NZ’s managing director, Karol Abrasowicz-Madej, said that despite the head winds BMW sales continue to blow strong, both locally and globally. Here, vehicle models beginning with an X now account for two in every three BMWs retailed. So SUVs rule but M cars also feature strongly, with New Zealand the top dog in terms of M market share. Mention of X and M, the X3 M and X4 M Competition models arrived recently, packing 375kW and 600Nm, and both with sprint times of 4.1sec. They’re priced at $178,900 and $183,600, respectively.

BMW is investing significant funds in local dealerships, a new facility opening this week in the Auckland suburb of Botany, and another under construction on the city’s North Shore in Takapuna. The four-level development will be New Zealand’s largest dealership. In total there are 10 BMW outlets nationwide and six Mini garages, said to be “crucial for an expanding footprint”.

BMW is gearing up for zero emissions, and Abrasowicz-Madej said that over 400 electrified BMW vehicles had been sold here in the past 24 months. He added “electric power is the future, it is inevitable”. The government is proposing a fleet average CO2 emissions target of 105g/km by 2025, and BMW supports this with a claim of the widest electrified model range in New Zealand. “We’re ready for it” as the BMW Group tagline goes. Helping the cause are 25 new electrified models incoming by 2023, half of which will be pure EVs.

BMW’s product and pricing manager, Tim Michaelson, expanded upon new additions to the range. The 8 series has gone on sale (with a four-door Grand Coupe and M8 to come), as have an updated 7 Series saloon, a new Z4, the seventh-generation 3 Series (with a Touring version due), and a slew of X product, including the X7 flagship. The updated X1 will soon arrive, along with an all-new X6. A new 1 Series will soon debut too, the third generation going front-wheel drive so expect more space, and an entry point of $49,900.

As to Mini goings-on, it has been an important year for the British brand, celebrating 60 years, and the 10 millionth car built. The head of Mini NZ, Chris Roe, reported the strongest first half ever, up 25 per cent on last year, with the brand on track to record 700 sales locally in 2019. Coming soon is the fastest Mini yet, the new JCW Clubman packing 225kW and 450Nm. Thanks to AWD, a seven-speed dual clutch transmission and launch control it is said to hit 100 in 4.8sec. Its Countryman JCW stablemate is almost as quick. Countryman, by the by, now accounts for over 50 per cent of Mini sales.

Midway through next year, the Cooper SE dots down, the brand’s first battery electric vehicle with a 33kWh lithium-ion pack, the same engine as the i3 (135kW/270Nm) but powering the front wheels, and a range of 250km.

Spot the electric version by its yellow highlights and listen out for its synthesized hum. Pricing will likely be similar to that of VW ID.3 rival, beginning with a five.

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