Although the brand takes electrification very seriously, based on its plans for the future, BMW does not believe that the car world will fully switch to electric powertrains in the foreseeable future. For similar reasons, BMW sees plug-ins not as a temporary, but as a permanent solution.
Also in the last days there is a lot of news about BMW’s electrification plans. The brand was with its first ‘big’ EV later than Jaguar, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, but wants to supplement the offer after that iX3 with the i4 and the iNext next year. Electric versions of the 3 and 5 series will follow.
Also on petrol in the future
So the Munich brand foresees an important role for electric cars, but at the same time does not believe that EVs will fully take over the role of traditionally powered cars. “The future will undoubtedly become more electric, but a fully electric car is not suitable for everyone,” said BMW i spokesman Wieland Brúch at a press event. “There will not be a moment when everyone wants a full electric car.” According to BMW, those who drive often and much longer distances will also be better served in the future with a petrol or diesel car, or perhaps a plug-in hybrid.
At the accompanying presentation, the share of fuel engines shows a downward trend over the coming years, to eventually stabilize. The share of EVs shows the exact opposite picture, while PHEVs (plugins) show growth in a somewhat more rigorous manner. The brand does not mention exact dates, but it is clear that the end of the fuel engine is not yet in sight in this vision of the future.
PHEVs as a permanent solution
BMW (like many other brands) is currently introducing one plug-in hybrid after another and certainly does not see that as a temporary solution. According to BMW, the combination of clean driving in the city and the ability to travel long distances quickly remains attractive in the long term. As mentioned earlier, this does not concern diesel plugins, because they are actually only interesting for Europe and because the CO2 profit with this drive type is smaller. However, ‘plug-in hybrids’ with a petrol engine have to be developed for years to come, with an ever-increasing electric range and increasingly lower CO2 figures. The latter is also an important part of the motivation for BMW, because PHEVs appear to be a very effective way of bringing the average CO2 emissions of the entire fleet to an acceptable level for the EU.
Existing models such as EV
BMW’s vision still fits in with what we see in practice, because with the iX3 the brand shows how the EVs want to carry. Unlike its competitors, this brand does not go for individual models with an electric drivetrain, but instead opts to provide existing models with such a drivetrain. An exception to the rule is the i-Next, an electric flagship that has to show what is possible in this area. This car also gets a futuristic interior with what BMW calls an ‘innovative space concept’.
In addition to petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and EV, BMW also sees a role for hydrogen-powered cars. The fuel cell solution, according to the brand, is especially interesting for larger models, because it is very difficult to turn mastodons like the X7 into a usable EV. In this BMW clearly differs from General Motors, for example, that hydrogen has hung on the willows until further notice.
‘As electric as Tesla’
BMW is proud to report that it delivers just as much a share of the ‘electrified vehicles’ mix in the EU as Tesla. Like the Americans, the Munich brand accounts for about 10 percent of the total, just like Volkswagen, by the way. An important difference is of course that Tesla are purely electric cars, while the other brands also include plug-in hybrids. In that area, BMW is quite fundamental: PHEVs fall into the category ‘electrified’, but mild hybrids do not. This is the case with some other brands, with the result that the complete range can quickly be classified as ‘electrified’.