There was a shuffle at the top of BMW late last year. Company veteran Frank van Meel was announced as the head of the brand’s performance M division, for the second time. He had previously worked as the M boss until late 2018, when he transitioned to focus on new electric vehicles like the BMW iX SUV and new i7 EV flagship sedan. But now he’s back at the helm of the M division, and his EV expertise will be put to good use—but not before the new gas-only 2023 BMW M2 goes on sale as the last of its kind.
In an interview with german outlet Bimmer Today, the returning exec seemed to confirm that the upcoming next-gen BMW M2 will be the last gas-only combustion powered model to go through the M division. The future of the performance brand will be all EV, though in the near term each new model launched after the M2 is presumed to adopt some sort of electrification, including the new flagship hybrid BMW XM SUV, if we take van Meel at his word (translated to English from its original German publication). MotorTrend reached out for confirmation from BMW USA, but have yet to receive a response. With the M2 launch around the corner, we shouldn’t have wait long to find out more.
The new BMW M2 has only been officially teased so far, but it’s said to be a purist delight with a six-speed manual transmission on offer. It’s likely the future M division vehicles stick to primarily gas power for some time, while adopting 48-volt mild-hybrid powertrain technology that’s already found on the XM. The next-generation M5 has reportedly been spotted in development testing with hybrid badging, as well, so it seems set that future M cars will be getting more batteries.
If more batteries just sounds like more weight to you, van Meel assures in the interview that managing weight is still a top priority for future models, despite the division branching into bigger and bigger vehicles, and introducing a flagship SUV over some sort of dedicated sports car platform like the iconic M1. Electrification, with its typical offering of more immediate torque and power gains, will help the M division keep the performance in its larger, heavier performance vehicles as it chases new customers with new segment offerings.
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