Photographer: Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images

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BMW AG said profitability will increase this year as the luxury carmaker joined rivals in targeting a steep rise in electric-vehicle sales by the end of the decade.

Returns from automaking will recover to between 6% and 8%, BMW said Wednesday in a

statement. Thats up from 2.7% last year, and higher than analysts expectations. The automaker plans for about half of total sales to be electric by the end of the decade, and will switch its urban Mini brand to

only sell battery-powered cars around that time, it said.

We have started the new year with strong momentum and are aiming to return to pre-crisis levels as swiftly as possible, Chief Executive Officer Oliver Zipse said. We have a clear road map for making the transformation of our industry a real competitive advantage for BMW in the coming years.

While carmakers revamp efforts have been jolted by the pandemic, theyre accelerating the shift to become efficient EV-making operations with greater software capabilities.

Volkswagen AG this week detailed plans that effectively will turn Europes biggest automaker into a major

battery-cell maker, as well. Volvo Cars and

General Motors Co. have set

dates to go fully electric, while

Daimler AG is

spinning off its trucks unit after a century of making commercial vehicles and cars.

BMW has come through last years health crisis better than expected and so far has dodged a global semiconductor shortage. Its shares have still trailed gains achieved by rivals with ambitious EV targets. VW

sees 1 million EV and plug-in hybrid sales this year, and its namesake brand this month

doubled a goal for EV sales in Europe to 70% share by the end of the decade.

BMWs electric pledge rests on new underpinnings from 2025 that also will enable much of a vehicles materials to be used again to make new cars. BMW previously said it expects 20% of total deliveries to be battery or plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2023. This year, the company will start sales of two additional electric models, the iX SUV and i4 sedan, alongside an electric Mini, the i3 city car and the iX3 SUV.

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