BMW has essentially said it will be fashionably late, but what it has in store will be worth the wait.

Today the German automaker said a new autonomous electric flagship for 2021 built under the “i NEXT” banner is part of its projection of itself for the “next 100 years.”

The move comes in response to a rapidly changing market influenced by Tesla, as well as Apple, Google, and others in the shadows.

Few specifics were offered by CEO Harold Krueger, but the car that will build on its Vision Next 100 concept revealed in March (pictured) could not only top the company’s i-Series range, but also supplant the 7-Series as BMW seeks to reinvent itself.

In a prepared speech, Krueger said the company’s i3 would get 50 percent more range, an i8 Roadster will also launch, and while sayingh nothing about an i5 also speculated about, jumped ahead to the next decade’ plan.


“This will be followed in 2021 by the BMW i NEXT, our new innovation driver, with autonomous driving, digital connectivity, intelligent lightweight design, a totally new interior and ultimately bringing the next generation of electro-mobility to the road,” said Krueger.

The news comes also as Audi and Mercedes-Benz have targeted long-range luxury electric cars for their respective brands by 2018.

It comes also as Tesla is making far greater waves at the other end of the demographic spectrum for its Model 3.

Krueger said BMW will be late, but in short, it is the best choice for it, and consumers:

The discussion about e-mobility is an emotional one, but the decisive factor is that we move things forward. I am certain that government measures will prove effective. It is always better to make a decision than to wait – and the purchase incentive will directly benefit customers. There was never any doubt that we would participate. Such a participation by the industry is unique worldwide. After all, the only way to make progress is by manufacturers, customers, lawmakers and society all working together.

BMW knows it is aiming for a moving target. It has developed lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastic for its innovated i3 and i8 so far, and the flagship promises to trickle down technology to other electrified models.

The company has also developed its iPerformance sub-brand for plug-in hybrids, which BMW says are in their third generation.

The company has said that starting in 2018 a new electrified vehicle will be introduced each year. The iNEXT is to be semi-autonomous, and by 2025, BMW predicts fully automated vehicles will be available.

BMW press release, Krueger text