BMW says staff defections have not decimated electric cars team

Harald Krueger, Chief Executive of German luxury carmaker BMW addresses a news conference in Munich, southern Germany, March 16, 2016. B REUTERS/Michael Dalder

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - BMW BMWG.DE Chief Executive Harald Krueger said the carmaker had enough staff to continue developing its cutting-edge electric vehicles program known as "Project i", despite recent defections of key staff to a Chinese electric vehicle startup.

“Overall four people have left the company, not all were working on the i project,” Harald Krueger told analysts on a call to discuss first-quarter results.

BMW is developing a roadster version of its hybrid i8 supercar, as well as a next generation electric autonomous car which is known as iNext.

“R&D development of iNext will start now. And we have the people on board to do so,” Krueger added.

Earlier this year, Carsten Breitfeld, Vice President Engineering, Head of the i8 Vehicle program, Dirk Abendroth, manager of BMW’s “i” powertrain group, and Henrik Wenders, Vice President Product Management BMW “i”, joined China’s Future Mobility Corp, a startup backed by Tencent Holdings.

Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Maria Sheahan