Unlike Some Automakers, BMW's Keeping Its Visions of the Future in (Very) Low Earth Orbit

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
unlike some automakers bmws keeping its visions of the future in very low earth

A big question mark hanging over the auto industry concerns the rate of electric vehicle adoption, but BMW — unlike some of its rivals — isn’t prone to wild predictions about the public’s enthusiasm for clean, green EVs.

Despite rolling out a global plan earlier this year for 25 plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles by 2025, the automaker knows customers won’t abandon their love of inline sixes and turbo fours just because a big battery batted its eyelashes. It’s keeping diesels around, too. Those other guys, the company’s R&D chief implies, just don’t know how to make them right. And politicians are being unfair.

As for EVs, too many people have unrealistic expectations, he adds.

Speaking to Australia’s GoAuto (kudos to AutoGuide), BMW’s board member in charge of development, Klaus Fröhlich, said there’s a lot of “irrational” talk surrounding EVs. While markets like Europe and China are poised to adopt electrification in a big way, the world’s bigger than just these two regions.

“A very optimistic scenario says 30 percent of BMWs will be pure electric or plug-in hybrids and seven per cent will be combustion,” he said. “If you assume that, from this 30 per cent, half of them are plug-in hybrids – I have 85 per cent in my portfolio in 2030 with a combustion engine.”

Diesels, which may soon disappear altogether in the United States, still have a home in other markets, and they’ll stay in production as long as BMW can sell them, Fröhlich promised.

“We have, I think, more or less the best diesels. All test show that we have the lowest emissions,” he said, before taking a swipe at lawmakers in Bimmer’s home country. “We have a spiral in Europe where every politician sees only one solution – diesel bashing. From a CO2 and customer perspective, a modern diesel is a very good solution. Especially for heavy, high-performing cars.”

Diesels, which may soon disappear altogether in the United States, still have a home in other markets, and they’ll stay in production as long as BMW can sell them, Fröhlich promised.

While diesels will remain a large part of the company’s overseas offerings, the number of engine variants will decline over time. At the same time, BMW will move forward with new vehicles like the upcoming i4 (a “3 Series-class four-door coupe” due in 2021), the iX3, and others. The company’s supply of battery components is secured through 2035.

Still, promising an electrified version of every model in its range is pointless, Fröhlich said.

“I can do everything in every car, but I will not do everything in every car. Because if I do a plug-in hybrid 8 Series, it will be an effort but no one is interested.”

[Image: BMW]

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3 of 13 comments
  • Vvk Vvk on Oct 16, 2018

    That is one ugly car. How amazingly beautiful the E46 was when it came out. And now this.

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Oct 16, 2018

    So for BMW there was no Sputnik moment and they pretend that Tesla does not exit?

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Oct 16, 2018

      Well said. The brand is already being outsold by Tesla in the US, so it looks cool to double down on diesel.

  • Theflyersfan As a kid, a neighbor had one of these full-sized conversion vans with the TV and wet bar in the back. And it was so cool to go in - as a kid it was, driving it had to be terror at times with blind spots, iffy power and brakes, and the feeling that you're hauling your living room with you! Kids of the 1970s and 1980s had this experience. Afterwards with minivans and then CUV everything, not so much.And I'm crushed that a 1977 van doesn't have some kind of mural on the sides. Coyote howling at the moon, American flag, Confederate flag, bright stripes, something! You can't have a 1970's era van with plain sides! At least a "Don't Laugh. Your daughter's in here" bumper sticker on the back. I always get a Gacy or Bundy vibe with these vans...
  • Jeff S In the EV market Tesla is not a niche player it is the major player. According to the latest data of the California-based vehicle valuation and automotive research company  Kelley Blue Book, Tesla has the lion’s share with 75 percent market share in  the electric vehicle market in the first three months of 2022.Tesla has dominated the electric vehicle market for years in the United States. The electric vehicles manufactured by Tesla accounted for 79 percent of the new electric vehicles registered in the United States in 2020 and 69,95 percent in 2021. The decrease in the market share in 2021 might be explained by backlogs and the global chip shortage, but the company is ramping up its sales and has already increased its market share to 75 percent in the first quarter of the year. According to Kelley Blue Book, the top 10 EVs sold in the US in the first quarter of 2022 are;[list=1][*]Tesla Model Y[/*][*]Tesla Model 3[/*][*]Ford Mustang Mach-E[/*][*]Tesla Model X[/*][*]Hyundai Ioniq 5[/*][*]Kia EV6[/*][*]Tesla Model S[/*][*]Nissan Leaf[/*][*]Kia Niro[/*][*]Audi e-Tron[/*][/list=1]Tesla has delivered 310,048 vehicles in the first quarter of 2022, another first-quarter record. The success of Tesla is proven once again as the company has three electric cars in the top 10 most selling electric vehicles in the United States, while no other manufacturer has even two different models on the list.Tesla leads all others, selling slightly over 936,000 units in 2021. This gave the company a market share of nearly 14%.Mar 30, 2022https://interestingengineering.com/transportation/tesla-ev-market-75-percent-market-share
  • Jeff S I did not know Plymouth had a full size van prior to the mini vans. I did know about the Plymouth pickups and the Trail Duster.
  • Arthur Dailey When I grew tired of the T-Bird trying to kill me by refusing to start at the most inconvenient times/places, I replaced it with a '79 fullsized Dodge (Sportsman) van. Similar to this but with a different grille and rectangular headlights. The 4 'captains' chairs in my van were pretty much identical to the ones in this van. Mine certainly was not as nicely finished inside. And it was a handful to drive in snow/ice. One thing that strikes me about this van is that although a conversion it does not seem to have the requisite dark tint on the windows.
  • Jeff S I am not a fan of Tesla and they were niche vehicles but it seems that they have become more common. I doubt if I get an EV that it would be a Tesla. The electrical grid will have to be expanded because people over the long run are not going to accept the excuse of the grid can't handle people charging their EVs.