FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German carmaker BMW aims to more than double the number of electric and hybrid vehicles it has sold to 500,000 by the end of 2019, Chief Executive Harald Krueger told German weekly WirtschaftsWoche.
In 2018 alone, deliveries of electrified vehicles are to rise by a "medium double-digit percentage", he said.
A pioneer in electric cars, BMW launched the i3 hatchback in 2013 but sales have been relatively low and management has wrestled with whether to go all-out for electrification.
But that changed in September when the Munich-based group said it would gear up for mass production of electric cars and aimed to have 12 fully electric models by 2025 with a range of up to 700 km.
The group said on Monday it had hit its target of selling 100,000 fully electric cars this year around the world, benefiting from strong demand in western Europe and the United States for models such as the i3 and the 2-series plug-in hybrid Active Tourer.
He said the carmaker would nonetheless keep making and selling cars with combustion engines to help finance a gradual shift to electrified cars.
Unlike his peer Matthias Mueller, the CEO of Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE>, he rejected the idea of doing away with tax subsidies for diesel.
"Bearing customers in mind who bought diesels, that is unjustifiable," Krueger said.
Mueller earlier this month called for subsidies for diesel vehicles to be shifted gradually to incentives for green cars, such as electric vehicles.
Acting Transport Minister Christian Schmidt had shot down the idea, though, saying that diesel was still needed during the transition to greener vehicles and there was therefore no reason to change tax rules.
(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Keith Weir)