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

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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