It could be a mid-engine supercar or it could be something completely different

The unveiling of the BMW Vision M Next Concept at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show opened the doors on the possibility of one day seeing a standalone M halo model. That door remains open to this day, though BMW M chief Markus Flasch was also quick to point out that the new standalone model doesn’t have to be a mid-engined supercar. Flasch made that point while speaking to Auto Express at the Los Angeles Auto Show, adding that even if it doesn’t turn out to be in the vein of the Vision M Next Concept, the future M model still has to “stand out from the crowd,” as all M cars should. Regardless of the form it ends up taking, the future M model is expected to arrive sometime in 2021.

Will the BMW M Halo Car Feature Electrification?

A Standalone M Halo Model Just Got a Huge Boost of Momentum
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Part of understanding what BMW M’s plans are with a possible standalone M model is to understand the company’s position on electrification. What we know as a certainty is that BMW is keen on working on this model. What’s less clear is the kind of powertrain it’s going to carry, specifically as it relates to electrification. The model could come with some form of electrification, which would make sense considering that its arrival in 2021 coincides with the timeline set by most automakers for widescale EV availability.

It makes sense for BMW to go down this path, and M chief Markus Flasch has made it clear that electrification will come to the BMW M division sooner rather than later. That’s the price of doing business in an industry that has seen an unprecedented shift in the type of powertrains that are being used today and in the near future.

A Standalone M Halo Model Just Got a Huge Boost of Momentum
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BMW M will use electrification, but whether we'll get to see it in this mysterious M model, well, it remains to be seen.

BMW M manager of product Carsten Pries spoke with Cars Guide at the recent Los Angeles Auto show, and he was adamant that electrification isn’t possible in BMW M at the moment because the technology isn’t mature enough to the point that BMW M is confident in using it in any of its models. It could do it if it wanted to, but the automaker is known for holding off on using and adapting new technologies until these technologies have advanced to the point that using them would fit into the brand profile of a proper M model.

A Standalone M Halo Model Just Got a Huge Boost of Momentum
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The standalone M halo model could still feature some form of electrification because there’s still time for EV technology to evolve.

But BMW isn’t doing it for the sake of doing it. That’s never been its motto, and it’s not changing its stripes anytime soon.

BMW M Will Never Go All-Electric

A Standalone M Halo Model Just Got a Huge Boost of Momentum
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BMW M will never be an all-electric brand, plain and simple.

It could feature models with 100% electric powertrains, sure, but it’s not going to turn into a company like Tesla where electrification powers everything. Flasch made that point clear to Auto Express.

“M has never been dogmatic about any particular technology – electrification is not rocket science and it’s not the game-changer that people think it’s an easy answer to every question.”

The official went on to say that “there won’t be a point of time when we turn all vehicles to this or that technology, we will live for a very long time with a variety of powertrains depending on the market and the segment.”

A Standalone M Halo Model Just Got a Huge Boost of Momentum
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It’s not a groundbreaking position to take since a lot of automakers are doing the same. Porsche just released the Taycan, it’s first-ever all-electric model, but it’s not going to turn its entire lineup into all-electric models. Could you imagine the uproar if Porsche ditched the six-cylinder engines on the 911 and decide that the iconic nameplate would be fully electric moving forward? Bridges would burn, that much I’m sure of.

It’s the same thing with BMW M, which has created an identity based on peak performance done in multiple ways, whether it’s through numerous internal combustion engine options or, more recently, hybrid technology. BMW M has succeeded in these spaces with the variety of powertrains it can offer. There’s no reason to abandon any of it and become an all-electric brand the way Tesla is. It’s not the BMW M way, and it never will be.

BMW Vision M Next vs BMW i8
BMW Vision M Next Concept BMW i8
Motor Four-cylinder + electric motors 1.5-liter TwinPower Turbo 3-cylinder plus electric motor
Horsepower 591 HP 369 HP
0 to 100 km/h 3 seconds 4.4 seconds
Top Speed 300 km/h (186 mph) 155 mph
Electric range 100 km (62 miles) 37 km (23 miles)

The BMW M Halo Car Could Share Similarities with the Vision M Next

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At this point, it’s reasonable to ask what the future holds for the BMW Vision M Next Concept.

Concept vehicles don’t typically have longer shelf lives than their public debuts, but there are some things about the Vision M Next Concept that BMW M could borrow for its future standalone model.

Without diving into any details, BMW design boss Domagoj Dukec hinted that even if the Vision M Next doesn’t progress beyond its concept phase, that doesn’t mean BMW M isn’t going to use anything from the concept and adapt it into the production M model.

The concept’s mid-engine layout, for example, is something that BMW M could adapt to the production version of the standalone M model, that is if this model ends up being a supercar. If anything, the Vision M Next Concept showed us that BMW could design a mid-engine performance car that’s going to attract a lot of attention.

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Visually, the concept’s low-slung, wedge-shaped proportions blend well with the mid-engined layout. Some hints and pieces also remind you of the famed BMW M1.

I can tell you this much; I’m not the only one who’s going to want to see that in a future standalone M model, especially when you consider that the M1 once occupied that spot as BMW M’s halo model.

On the flip side, there’s one thing that I don’t want to see in the standalone M model. BMW’s new big kidney grille is one of the German automaker’s few design missteps. If it’s really serious about using it on some of its production nameplates, then there’s nothing we can do about it. But, please, for the love of God, keep it as far away from the standalone M halo model. The Vision M Next Concept’s grille isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as the classic kidney grille look, but at least it doesn’t swallow up the rest of the car’s front fascia.

The BMW M Halo Car Could Be an SUV

A Standalone M Halo Model Just Got a Huge Boost of Momentum
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As fanciful as a standalone M halo supercar sounds, Flasch was noncommittal on that part, leaving the door open that the stand-alone M model could be an SUV.

As intriguing as it sounds, it’s also a complete waste of time. SUVs, by their very appearance and function, are not meant to be halo models. Conversely, halo models are supposed to represent the pinnacle of an automaker’s capability. Everything that BMW M stands for should be present in a halo model. That includes, in the words of Dukec, a “heritage of bringing art cars and race cars together with M.” A standalone M halo SUV doesn’t fit that mold, and it never will.

Sure, BMW M could flip the script on all of us and launch one anyway. But that would run counter to everything that it stands for, and the smart money is that BMW M is smart enough not to get too ambitious with its standalone M model.

When Will We See the BMW M Halo Car?

A Standalone M Halo Model Just Got a Huge Boost of Momentum
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As it is, BMW says that the standalone M halo car will arrive in 2021.

Based on where we are in 2019, that could be anywhere from 13 months to more than two years away. That should leave BMW M enough time to work on the vehicle provided that it doesn’t start development from scratch. The BMW Vision M Next Concept could play a pivotal role in the development of that vehicle, so it’s going to very interesting to see how BMW and its M performance brand tackle this challenge.

Whatever happens, the next two years should be a very busy time for BMW M. The brand’s goal of launching its first-ever standalone M model has been a long time in the making. Now that we’re nearing the expected date of its launch, all eyes will be on BMW M to see what it has to offer. Company executives have so far said the right things without giving too much away, but at some point, it’s going to have to do more than throw a few seeds of information our way.

Source: Auto Express

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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