BMW has confirmed its M performance division is already testing hybrid powertrains in development mules.

The plan was confirmed by BMW M vice president, Dirk Hacker, who spoke about the steady march of hybridization to Autocar. Without elaborating on details or dates, he did confirm development work was already underway.

"We cannot avoid the need for electrification and it is true that we are working on hybrid power already," said Hacker. "For now, all I will say is that we are working on a very precise technical solution, but there is no final decision on how to deploy the concept."

The biggest challenge faced by BMW's vaunted performance arm is dealing with the weight penalties of a hybrid powertrain and its subsequent effect on handling and pace.

"Adding mass to performance cars is never ideal," Hacker continued. "But if we can use electrification to install more performance, then we start to have the answers. That might be more speed, or it might be the ability for a car to be driven on electric power in a city. It might also be the case that we need different answers to that question in different cities."

But based on Hacker's answer, it sounds like BMW could be looking at short-term solutions to quickly electrify M cars for simple either-or hybrid operation, where electric power would putter the car around in city environments with the internal combustion engine flaring up when long distances, open roads, or race tracks are involved.
BMW is also working vigilantly on developing its next-generation electric technology, which is due for introduction in 2021, and likely holds the key to a fully fledged electric M car.

"The better the batteries and the more efficient the electric motors, the better the solutions will be for M."

Hacker also took the opportunity to promise enthusiasts BMW will continue to build M cars with combustion engines until the government makes it illegal for them to do so. "For some enthusiasts, they will always have advantages, and we have seen with the sales of the M2, which are well past expectations, that these are the kinds of cars many enthusiasts still want."