BMW intensely prepares for the upcoming self-driving and ride-sharing era

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The premium German brand has started to reorganize its R&D department so it can focus more on self-driving techs, board member Klaus Froehlich told Reuters in an interview.

In order to stay competitive in the challenging premium sector in the upcoming years, BMW needs to step up and really push harder on all its development areas. And the brand has already started an extensive revamp process with its electric “i” division, which has not been as successful so far as it hoped it would be. The carbon fiber bodied i3, which drew only 25,000 customers last year, has just received a new battery pack for the 2017 model year, thus boosting its range by 50 percent, while it is reportedly said to be replaced by an entirely new version in 2018.

BMW is also focusing now on self-driving technologies and it has begun to reorganize its research and development department in April, BMW board member Klaus Froehlich told Reuters. The process will imply hiring more software engineers and specialist in artificial intelligence, a vital step in rapidly advancing with BMW’s plans of eventually making a fully driverless premium car. If software engineers account now for only 20 percent of the overall R&D staff, BMW aims to raise that proportion to 50 percent in the next 5 years.

And, of course, there is the ride-sharing direction to be considered as well. And with an autonomous car in the line-up, such a service launched by BMW will definitely spawn a very lucrative business, Froehlich said. Until then however, BMW is considering to team up with a ride-hailing company to take advantage of the trend, especially in China where there are greater opportunities.

Via Reuters