In Tesla-dominated Hong Kong, BMW eyes 50 per cent of its sales in the city to come from electric cars by 2024

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BMW, electric vehicles, chip shortages, Tesla, climate change

BMW will launch at least three new electric car models in Hong Kong this year, as the German firm aims for battery-powered vehicles to account for 50 per cent of its sales in the city by 2024, much earlier than its global goal of 2030.

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After launching the iX “sports activity vehicle” and i4 compact sedan in Hong Kong in the last three months, it plans to roll out the iX3 sports utility vehicle, i7 limousine and iX1 compact SUV later this year.

“Within the next few months, we will have fully electric vehicles in each of the main market segments,” said Martijn Oremus, managing director of BMW Hong Kong Services. “Step by step, every year, we will have more electric products coming to the market.”

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Despite challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as chip shortages and logistics hiccups that have affected the car industry, he said BMW has been clinching deals directly with chip makers besides procuring from its usual sources, expecting supplies to improve over the course of this year.

BMW, electric vehicles, chip shortages, Tesla, climate change

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Martijn Oremus, managing director of BMW Hong Kong Services, expects its pipeline of new car models to be well-received by buyers in Hong Kong. Photo: May Tse

“I recommend customers to make buying decisions early in order to secure a good production slot,” he said. Deliveries of the iX and i4 in Hong Kong are expected as early as the fourth quarter.

Hong Kong had nearly 25,000 electric cars in October, or 3.8 per cent of the overall total. EVs accounted for 23 per cent of new car registrations in the first 11 months of last year, up from 12 per cent in 2020 and 6 per cent in 2019. Of the 8,454 EVs registered during period, 7,252 were Tesla cars and 16 were BMWs, according to Transport Department data.

Owin Fung Ho-yin, deputy director of the Environment Protection Department, said in December he expected the ratio of EVs in new car sales to rise to 50 per cent by 2025.

The government has been stepping up policy support to lift the take-up of emission-free vehicles as part of Hong Kong’s strategy to become carbon-neutral by 2050 and fight climate change. This includes HK$2 billion (US$256.6million) in subsidies to install 110,000 EV charging facilities on private housing estates.

“Currently, there is one charging pillar for every six EVs, [so] we do see the need for further development on home charging, destination charging and fast charging facilities,” Oremus said.

While the average BMW and Mini is only driven 40km a day in the city and only needs to be charged once a week assuming a driving range of 400km, customers’ “range anxiety” needs to be overcome, he said.

“They [customers] do see the need to have one or more locations where they surely know they can charge their vehicles in public charging points,” he said, adding his firm would support a government-led open platform to share information on the availability of real time charging facilities.

BMW Group, which sells BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce cars, posted an 8.4 per cent global sales growth last year to 2.52 million units. BMW sales alone grew 9.1 per cent to a record 2.21 million units.

China was the luxury carmaker’s top market, delivering 846,237 BMW and Mini vehicles.

The group’s fully-electric vehicle sales jumped 133.2 per cent to 103,855 units, or 4.1 per cent of the total. It is targeting to more than double it again in 2022, Pieter Nota, the board member responsible for customer, brands and sales, said last month.

By 2030, it aims for at least half of its global sales to come from electric vehicles, and for the carbon emission per vehicle and kilometre down to half the level in 2019.

It is also targeting net zero emission – from raw materials production to consumption of its products – by 2050, and increase the average use of recycled and reused materials in its cars from 30 per cent currently to 50 per cent by 2030.

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