By on June 26, 2020


BMW’s approach to the next frontier of driving propulsion has been an incremental one. First, electrification in a couple of oddball niche cars; then, plug-in hybrid versions of more conventional models. The fully electric vehicles coming down the pipe share their versatile architecture with existing models containing more conventional powerplants.

It’s cautious, and it’s certainly the approach most American automakers would probably prefer to take themselves. Alas, Germany is not America. EU regulators regularly crack the whip, startling execs who built their careers on dishing out gas and diesel offerings. Go green in a big way, now, or be slowly asphyxiated by a blanket of regulation that penalizes builders of emissions-heavy fleets.

It’s no wonder BMW’s works council wants top brass to stop dipping their toe in the deep end and just jump in, already.

A report  in Germany’s Der Spiegel (via Reuters) reveals the pressure placed on BMW’s C-suite crowd.

Developing platforms to accommodate a range of powertrains isn’t good enough to keep up in that market, proponents claim. It’s dedicated EV architecture or bust. Keep in mind that no automaker finds it easy to part with money in our current day and age, but they’ll do it if it promises a future return — or survival.

“Only with our own e-architecture can we fully exploit the advantages of an electric vehicle,” said Manfred Schoch, chairman of the BMW Group Works Council, in an interview with Der Spiegel.

Without dedicated architecture capable of underpinning a vast range of vehicles (think Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform), BMW will be increasingly vulnerable to rivals in a market rapidly switching away from internal combustion. One-off models like the BMW i4 and iX3, both of which will arrive on the market in short order, stand to fight a losing battle, Schoch asserts.

With a dedicated platform, designers could free up more interior room, while the extra space for batteries would lead to competitive driving ranges. Apparently, there’s been a movement afoot to convince the higher-ups of this need for some time.

When contacted by Reuters, BMW replied that it was already “optimally positioned.”

The internal battle continues, it seems.

[Image: BMW Group]

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9 Comments on “BMW Faces a Choice: Go Big on EVs, or Risk Falling Behind...”

  • avatar

    Right now Euro BEVs kind of suck so I don’t think BMW is really in danger of “falling behind”.

  • avatar

    BMW could eliminate a lot of their reliability and durability issues by getting rid of ICEs. Unless of course their electric powertrains are as crappy as their IC ones.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    BMW can hardly consider a BEV platform while their existing portfolio is so cluttered. The company can’t focus.

    Do they really need every variant of: X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6, X7, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Z4, M (for everything), i3, i8 (recently killed off), and convertible versions?

    • 0 avatar

      BMW has this covered. It’s developing a series of components for electric cars with partners JLR and BVD. Rumours are also going around that Tata will sell 50% of JLR to BMW….

  • avatar

    The solution to BMW’s Euro-regulation is simple: move to Canada! There’s a Canada/EU trade agreement that can be used to transition the company into a global one, limiting EU production to the electric models.

    They can build and sell the ICE models that sell in the US and elsewhere, free of EU regulation. Once the UK is fully out of the EU and has a trade agreement with the US, American-made ICE models can be exported to the UK, whereas remaining in the EU would effctively close that market to BMW.

    BMW builds and sells cars globally, so it should seriously consider leaving Europe’s regulators behind. Getting away from Germany’s punitive legal system is also a plus. Most BMW executives can speak English anyway.

  • avatar

    BMW should be careful not to bet its survival on any one power system. Until recently, European regulators favored diesels. Where would BMW be now had they optimized their fleet for diesel power with no compromises to accommodate anything else?

  • avatar

    The EU is a socialist eco-terrorist dictatorship and it shows. The measures taken to force people into EVs is akin to a planned economy: communism, in other words.

    I do not want to drive an electric car, and I am enraged when people want to force me to drive one. An EV, in its current technological state, lacks the flexibility which I require for the type of driving and distances I need to cover. Let me drive my diesel car and piss off, EU.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Don’t worry, the Brits will soon ban ICE vehicles inside of most cities ring roads. Live in a flat? The government will furnish the charger and you’ll pay for the electricity. Europeans drive less than we do, their shift to EVs will continue. A 200 mile charge might last some of them a month. The Europeans think of transportation in much more holistic way than we do. AMTRAK had better keep sleepers on the Silver Meteor.

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