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Will BMW's new flagship be an autonomous electric car?

With the Model 3, Tesla has inspired an even bigger frenzy in the electric car market. Other car makers are catching on, planning to offer even more electrified options to their current range.

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    The BMW 'Vision Next 100' concept car presented during the company's centenary celebrations at the Olympic Hall in Munich, southern Germany (March 7, 2016).
    Michael Dalder/Reuters/File
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Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is currently igniting the hearts and wallets of a portion of the car-buying public that is interested in putting an electric vehicle in their garage or driveway.

Those are car buyers that the traditional automakers are paying close attention to, or should be if they're not.

Germany's three majors are certainly paying attention, and each has a plan to offer up more electrified options in the not-too-distant future.

Earlier we learned that Audi plans to launch at least one electrified vehicle per year starting from 2018. Now, according a new report, BMW's recently confirmed model above the 7-Series could be an electric car with self-driving capability.

The i8 and the i3 have attracted a bit of attention for Bavaria, but it's nowhere near the level seen on the Tesla side of the equation. BMW needs to bring more to the game if it intends to capture that sales spark. Bloomberg reports that BMW plans on introducing its own long-rage electric vehicle, a car code-named the iNext. It will be so important to the automaker that it will wind up as the flagship machine for the entire brand.

There's a problem here, though, and that's one of timing. The iNext reportedly won't be ready until 2021. That's a long time for buyers to wait, especially when you consider that Audi and Mercedes-Benz are closer to bringing their long-range electric vehicles to market. Audi will have its Q6 e-tron on sale in 2018 and Mercedes is said to be launching a Tesla rival soon.

BMW is losing its grip as the luxury sales king. It seems that it's real iNext move... is into second place in the global luxury sales game.

This article first appeared at MotorAuthority.

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