By on September 14, 2017


Earlier this year, BMW let fly that it had completed development on a flexible vehicle architecture that would enable electrification of every model series in its stable. By 2025, BMW Group expects electrified vehicles to account for between 15 to 25 percent of its sales, but it wanted to be ready in case 100 percent was a possibility.

We know that plug-in versions of just about every model are forthcoming — the big news being the fully electric X3 for 2020. But we didn’t have a solid timeline for widespread implementation of the new platform, capable of accepting electric, plug-in hybrid and internal combustion powertrains. Now we do. According to management board member Klaus Fröhlich, it’s also going to begin in 2020. 

Speaking at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Fröhlich said uncertainty in the market has essentially forced BMW’s hand. Emissions regulations in Europe and China are getting serious and the chance of government intervention has made the brand weary of not having a plan B, C, or even D. It doesn’t mean consumers will have immediate access to BEV versions of the 5 series, but it does mean BMW will have the option to build one on short notice.

Speaking with Jalopnik, BMW i brand head Robert Irlinger also expressed a need for adaptability as the industry sits at this new crossroad. He believes the flexible vehicle architecture is the obvious solution.

However, this raises questions as to what purpose a massive cavity for the battery compartment would serve on a vehicle that doesn’t need one. Presumably, internal combustion and mild-hybrid units would have no use for them. Similarly, purely electric cars don’t need to make room for a traditional fuel tank.

Irlinger assured Jalopnik that, like other company’s scalable or modular platforms, hard points will remain constant, though it can be stretched to accommodate any number of floorpans or powertrains. While that doesn’t allow for purpose-built versions of either plug-in or combustion-focused vehicles from the ground up, it also might not matter. The whole point is to keep things liquid at BMW and be able to roll with the punches.

Between BMW, its i sub-brand, and Mini, the automotive group plans to offer 25 electrified vehicles — 12 of which will be fully electric — by 2025. Presently, it has 9 EV models on the market, ranging from the BMW i3 to the MINI Cooper S E Countryman. The company has said it is committed to selling 100,000 electrified vehicles for 2017 and will have a total of 200,000 electrified vehicles on the roads by the end of the year.

[Image: BMW Group]

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16 Comments on “BMW Switching to Flexible EV Architecture for All Models in 2020...”

  • avatar

    >15-20 percent
    In the normal course of human events, how great a percentage of sales would electrified vehicles have been if not for the heavy-hand of European automobile regulation? 5%? 3%?

    • 0 avatar

      Try 0%. First virtually no one would buy an EV without the subsidies, but what makes the total zero is that no one would develop and build one without the subsidies/mandates. Since very few governments can afford to give EV buyers $20,000 to $100,000 in tax breaks and other benefits as they do in Norway where EVs make up 30-40% of new cars sales, they are moving to mandates to put all the pressure and risk on the automakers at “no cost” to taxpayers. Very similar to CAFE – force automakers to build what most customers don’t want to buy.

      • 0 avatar

        @stingray: Try 0%. First virtually no one would buy an EV without the subsidies,

        Let’s go to the order page… selecting P100D, all the options, $150k – no problem. Wait I’m not getting a subsidy and I won’t get it for $142,500!!! Damn, can’t afford $150k. Cancel the order.

        • 0 avatar

          MCS – Elon would not be selling P100Ds or anything else without the subsidies, because there would be no Tesla. So no order page for you to look at. Even with subsidies, Tesla is a rounding error in terms of overall new vehicle sales.

          • 0 avatar

            Nothing wrong with the government “priming the pump” for a technology that might be too expensive for the open market to do on their own. Hell, they provide subsidies for the energy industry – why is this any different? If the product is good, it will sell. If if is just a “hey we tried” compliance vehicle like the Leaf it will die regardless of the EV subsidy.

            Stingray65 – same SR65 as on CF?

          • 0 avatar
            healthy skeptic


            Per mcs’ point, Tesla has always sold from the top of the market, so I don’t think lack of subsidies would have ever broken them.

            You might be getting “subsidy” confused with low-interest loan, which Tesla did get and eventually paid off in full. Related, but not quite the same thing.

          • 0 avatar

            That explains why Tesla’s sales were completely maintained when Denmark stopped subsidizing them.

            Oh wait, that’s the exact opposite of what happened.

          • 0 avatar

            @derekson: when Denmark stopped subsidizing them.

            That subsidy you’re talking about was removing a 180% tax. A 180% tax. It’s phased in, but in the article, they give an example of a $90,641 USD jumping to $113,700 in 2016 and $135,819.74. They added a $45k tax onto a $90k car. The drop in sales had nothing to do with it being an EV. It had everything to do with adding massive taxes.

            Using this logic, we could add a 180% tax on ICE cars in the US, then when the sales mysteriously tank, we can say that it’s evidence that ICE cars can’t survive without subsidies.


  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Cost: Huge
    Benefits: Mouse Nuts

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This approach makes sense if you’re an ICE maker with an uncertain market future, at least in the near term.

    To answer the question about large cavities in the vehicle, perhaps those are also part of the flexible architecture. But this approach *always* raises costs because nothing is optimized. By contrast, this is a question Tesla has never needed to address.

    BMW is more serious about EVs than most ICE makers. Remarkably, in the US market they have the same market share as Mazda, but Mazda has been steadfastly against EV/hybrid development. If the future leans toward electrification, Mazda will really be found with its pants down, while BMW at least has an answer.

  • avatar

    Putting the battery in the floor is the optimal solution for an electric car for low CG and safety. However, if they want a flexible setup, they can just replace the gas tank with the electric motor, and put the battery where the engine used to be.

    Weight is far more important in an electric though.

  • avatar

    Oh great.

  • avatar

    Anyone else remember when BMW tried implying their superiority over other luxury brands because each model used a dedicated platform?

  • avatar

    The term “electrified” is being used so loosely lately that it’s hard to understand what this promise means. Fully electric vehicle, plugin, full hybrid, mild hybrid or 48V electrical system? Even if BMW will offer wide range of “electrified” solutions what will be the share in sales? Even if gov subsidized sales will pick up, then immediately after the gov support is dropped, sales will drop too. If demand for fuel will drop with spread of EV-s, fuel prices will drop too and at some point ICE cars will be attractive again. If fuel sales will drop significantly then government tax income will fall too, I am sure then will be introduced tax for EVs etc.

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