BMW Faces a Choice: Go Big on EVs, or Risk Falling Behind

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
bmw faces a choice go big on evs or risk falling behind

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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2 of 9 comments
  • ThomasSchiffer ThomasSchiffer on Jun 26, 2020

    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.

  • El scotto El scotto on Jun 28, 2020

    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.

  • NormSV650 Everyone is partnering to make batteries in North America today, except the Japanese.
  • Arthur Dailey "A massive chrome bumper" listed on the brochure/ad as a selling/design feature. How I miss 1970s auto design.
  • Master Baiter Taycan a massive success?
  • Robert Levins I love the Stutz lavish luxury designs but this one has a tough time blending “Squared” off 1980’s roof line with previous decades of beautiful sweeping fenders, hoods, and deck lids. I do like this one for what it is, I admire it. I can see this model doing well with the big oil Saudis and such. If I had a lot money and wanted a”Stutz” car I would most likely not be buying this one.
  • Jkross22 Current Mazda interiors match or beat Audi. Chunky buttons, clicky knobs, big displays - pity that Mazda hasn't figured out how to boot the crappy Bose system and offer up something better. No shortage of audio companies that could help with that.