Rolls-Royce’s first electric car has two doors and is longer than a Cadillac Escalade — but that hasn’t stopped a growing number of high-end luxury automakers from rushing to follow its lead. Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Porsche… and now BMW is looking to build electric cars, too.
Bauknecht, a 25-year-old who grew up near Berlin, Germany, had never been near an electric car until he was commissioned to build one for his German employers as a senior project designer.
The Mercedes-Benz AMG electric vehicle he designed — dubbed the GLC40 — was built in a Mercedes-Benz factory in Stuttgart and went on sale in Berlin in September. Bauknecht has since gone home and gone back to his job, but his work caught the attention of BMW CEO Harald Krüger, who visited his home during Christmas. The two met, and after a brief chat, BMW agreed to buy more than 100 of Bauknecht’s electric car designs to be built in its own plants, all with the BMW engine. By the time the GLC40’s launch party in Berlin came months later, BMW had already paid €300,000 for Bauknecht’s designs and had purchased the remaining designs on his behalf.
Last year, BMW announced that it was building a new factory in the US with which it would manufacture electric cars, and today plans were revealed that show it’s well on its way to becoming the first carmaker to build its own electric vehicle.
BMW’s efforts to build a domestic electric car, as well as its move to building its own electric vehicles, reflect the growing importance of electric cars in the car industry. Today, electric car sales alone are thought to account for more than 15 percent of total vehicle sales in the US, and according to the MIT Auto Luxury Conference, the US has the highest percentage of luxury vehicles — nearly 60 percent — driven by electrics.
BMW’s goal for this electric car is to become a luxury carmaker like Bentley, and its move comes as the brand is taking the lead in electric vehicle design. Bentley’s new electric car, first announced in January, features a carbon fiber body, but BMW CEO Harald Krüger is making clear his intention to build an electric luxury car — and his