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FRANKFURT: German luxury automaker BMW said it expected a “significant increase” in profit before tax this year and would speed up its transition to electric vehicles as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

For 2020, the company reported a 23-percent slump in net profit to 3.9 billion euros ($4.6 billion) compared with 2019 as the health crisis battered the economy.

BMW said it was determined to build on the upturn that begun in the second half of last year, bringing forward the launch of its key electric car the i4 and hiking sharply its sales forecasts for the new vehicles. Over the next 10 years, it said it now expected sales of 10 million all-electric cars, up from the four million previously estimated.

BMW has been one of the trendsetters in electric vehicles with its i3 model but more recently has fallen behind Elon Musk’s Tesla. The company said that after a 13 percent increase in the electric market in 2020, growth will pick up to “more than 50 percent” over the next five years, followed by 20 percent annual gains through to 2030.

By 2030, half of its car sales will be electric-powered models, it said.

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