Eight years ago, BMW was one of the first major automakers to sell a battery-powered car: The i3 broke ground with its lightweight carbon-fiber body and aluminum chassis.
But lately, the German company, known for its sporty luxury cars and “ultimate driving machines,” has fallen behind in the global race to develop the next generation of electric vehicles.
Unlike General Motors or Volvo, BMW has not set a date to bury the internal combustion engine. Unlike Volkswagen, it has not begun selling a full line of vehicles designed from the ground up to run on batteries. As other auto executives wax optimistic about an electric future, Oliver Zipse, the BMW chief executive, has criticized plans by the European Union to ban gasoline and diesel engines by 2035.