Apart from emitting sounds tuned by Hans Zimmer and rocking neon-orange on its bow and stern, the BMW Vision M Next was known for apparently being a preview into the automaker’s eventual successor to the i8. It was supposed to be another plug-in hybrid making more power than the i8 and have a design inspired by the old M1. Unfortunately, due to cost concerns only exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, the project has reportedly been filed to the recycle bin.
From Germany’s Manager-Magazin via Autoblog, the BMW Vision M Next concept “will remain a prototype. The board decided not to build it. That makes no sense in the post-corona world, explains one of the decision-makers.” What’s more, BMW Blog says the project has been canceled “for some time now,” citing its own insider sources. When The Drive reached out to BMW, a company spokesperson declined to comment.
Not surprisingly, the alleged reason behind the i8-successor’s demise is cost. You don’t need to be a seasoned auto industry analyst to know that high-cost, low-volume sports car ventures like this—even during the best of times—aren’t all that financially rewarding. Throw in the biggest health crisis the world has seen in about a century and the decision to can the mid-engined two-seater probably seemed like a no-brainer as far as the bean counters were concerned.
Over the years, automakers—BMW included—have been able to cut costs on sports car development by partnering up with another manufacturer. Think Mazda’s current ND Miata and the Fiat 124 or BMW’s own Z4-Supra arrangement with Toyota. There’s been no indication, however, of the existence of any sort of cross-automaker collaboration when it came to the M Next.
Given the current climate, we can’t honestly say we blame BMW for pulling the plug on this car. The i8, as evidenced by its so-so sales, tepid critical reception, and weak residual values, was already a hard sell, and making a case for a successor, especially in the midst of coronavirus, was likely even harder.
Shame. We were fans of the M Next’s wedgy, Giugiaro-esque design. Not that the i8 looked bad, mind you, but we were kinda looking forward to driving a clean-cut, mid-engined BMW that didn’t look like a PlayStation 5 controller.
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