New 5 Series will make global debut in Busan
Two executives from BMW - Pieter Nota, BMW’s board member responsible for customer, brands and sales segments, and Nicolas Peter, the unit’s chief financial officer - vowed to keep on expanding its investment into research and development (R&D) in Korea Wednesday as the car maker still grapples with the tainted reputation in the aftermath of the engine fire scandal.
The current R&D center located in Yeongjongdo, Incheon, will be relocated to a larger facility next year with 13 more employees, the executives said in a press conference held at BMW’s driving center near the R&D center.
“We recognize Korea as one of the world’s powerhouses of high-end technology. It represents innovative thinking, technological progress and tremendous openness to new developments,” said Peter. “This places Korea in an excellent position to play an important role in shaping future mobility.”
The revamp will also be geared toward widening research areas to encompass battery cell technology, material research and charging technology activities for electric vehicles.
They also announced release plans for more future-centric, sustainable car models such as electric and hybrid cars and autonomous driving vehicles.
As for electric cars, the Mini Electric, the fully electric version of the Mini, will be introduced to Korean drivers alongside other electric vehicles.
“By the end of this year, we will offer five electrified vehicles in Korea, the fully electric i3 and four plug-in hybrids, including the 5 and 7 Series,” Nota said. “In 2020, we will add four more plug-in hybrids, including the new 3 Series. That means there will be an electrified vehicle in every segment.”
Earlier this month, the group said that it plans to have 25 electric models in its portfolio by 2023, with more than half of those being fully electric cars.
Another focus will be on partnerships with local companies.
The executives highlighted that recent deals and agreements with Korean companies show its commitment to the market.
The automaker will partner with SK Telecom to jointly develop car navigation solutions.
BMW also announced Thursday it inked a 2.9 billion euro ($3.2 billion) battery supply deal with local battery maker Samsung SDI.
BMW Group is expected to spend over 2 billion euros on Korean parts by the end of next year, the Korean unit of the German auto giant said during a meeting with its local suppliers last week.
BY PARK EUN-JEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]