The BMW XM is the first standalone M car in decades. It is positioned above the X5 M/X6 M Competition and X7 M60i in the German carmaker’s product line and is probably the most M a BMW SUV can get.
In light of the XM being a plug-hybrid and the wave of electrification in the automotive industry, some hope for a fully-electric version. However, we don’t see an all-electric XM variant arriving in the current generation.
On why a BMW XM Electric isn’t emerging anytime soon
Weight of the Battery
The XM is the ultimate M SUV, but it’s also the heaviest production BMW ever made at 6,062 pounds. While it isn’t a surprise seeing that the bold SUV has a V8 engine paired with an electric motor, an EV version is not a straightforward technical solution at BMW M.
EV batteries are heavy. To put things in perspective, the Hummer EV weighs around 9,063 pounds, with the battery pack adding a third of the weight. Given the size of the XM, we reckon it would need a 120-130 kWh battery pack weighing up to 2,000 pounds.
If it were a family SUV, there would be no problem. However, this works against the XM Electric as BMW M would want to offer some of its trademark handling attributes in the SUV. Weight is the biggest enemy of handling, so until batteries get significantly lighter, large performance SUVs may not be possible.
Ex-CEO confirms no M EVs before 2025
Talking about all-electric M cars to Sport Auto in November 2021, the divisions’ ex-CEO Markus Flasch said that fully-electric driving is also the future for BMW M. However, it is not the immediate future for the performance outfit: “But I can promise: From the second half of the decade, we will have all types of drive on offer, i.e. combustion, high-performance hybrids and purely electric, which complement each other perfectly.”
From Flasch’s remarks, we surmise that BMW M will begin its EV offensive when the Neue Klasse platform, the company’s advanced electric-only vehicle architecture, is ready for adoption. The first Neue Klasse model is the second-gen BMW iX3 that is set to enter production in 2025. Note that the XM rides on the current CLAR (Cluster) architecture which is shared with BMW’s combustion vehicles.
BMW commences testing of a quad-motor EV prototype
Cementing what Flasch said, BMW began testing a quad-motor EV prototype in August this year. The M xDrive four-wheel drive prototype was an upgraded version of the BMW i4 M50. BMW M uses the quad motor setup to let future all-electric M cars have “variable, precise and fast” distribution of torque which will be way better than what “conventional drive systems” offer. With testing having commenced, we expect BMW M to take its time before introducing its first standalone EV.
Lightweight & efficient batteries still in development
While these developments suggest that the first fully-electric M car will not emerge before the decade’s second half, there is hope for optimism. BMW is working on next-generation batteries, which will offer 30% or more range than the current batteries while weighing considerably less, and cutting charging time. Clearly, these attributes will enhance vehicle performance, handling, and appeal.
55-mile Electric range offered by the 2023 BMW XM
The 2023 BMW XM’s range is impressive on paper, and with light-footed driving, one could complete their work, groceries and school runs solely on electric power! The plug-in hybrid SUV has a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 paired with a 145 kW (197 hp) electric motor. With its 25.7 kWh battery, the XM PHEV offers a WLTP range of 88 km (55 miles) in fully electric mode. BMW also says that the car’s onboard charger allows the battery to be fully charged in around three hours. The BMW XM plug-in hybrid is set to enter production by the end of this year.
Featured image: TopElectricSUV’s iteration of the BMW XM.