BMW’s head of Research and Development Klaus Froehlich does not have any plans to push his company into the quickly growing electric vehicle sector. In a recent interview, the BMW exec stated that he believes the various markets of the world simply do not have a real need for electric cars.
BMW has the i3 and the i8, but it seems that the company is in no rush to transition into a fully electric lineup despite the environmental urgency and growing appeal of electric vehicles to mainstream buyers. Froehlich stated in an interview with Automotive News that BMW will continue to make gas engines for at least 30 years more.
“On the diesel side, production of the 1.5-liter, three-cylinder entry engine will end and the 400-hp, six-cylinder won’t be replaced because it is too expensive and too complicated to build with its four turbos. However, our four- and six-cylinder diesels will remain for at least another 20 years and our gasoline units for at least 30 years,” he said.
Yet, Froehlich’s most interesting comment was his belief that the United States simply does not have a real need for electric vehicles because of an incomplete charging infrastructure. He also claimed that while EVs are good for the east and west coast, the rest of the US will continue adopting the internal combustion engine.
“Most of the U.S. does not need BEVs. We could offer high-performance plug-in hybrids in the M space, providing a lot of fun to the driver as well as [environmental] credits for us. We see BEVs mainly in the west coast and parts of the east coast, while the rest of the U.S. will continue with conventional gasoline engines,” he said.
There is no advantage to having an electric vehicle in Europe either, according to Froehlich. The BMW exec added that hybrids will likely account for up to 25% of sales in Europe, while diesel and gasoline cars will account for more than 50%.
“In Europe there is reluctance to jump directly to BEVs, so plug-in hybrids are the right solution. We expect plug-in hybrids to account for up to 25 percent of [European sales], gasoline and diesel will have more than 50 percent and the rest will be BEVs,” he said.
This is an interesting strategy considering many European countries have already set petrol bans for less than 20 years into the future. While BMW will continue to manufacture vehicles that operate on gas or diesel fuel, they will soon be flat-out illegal in some territories.
Froehlich does not seem threatened by the phase-out of petrol, however. He stated that plug-in hybrids were a more appropriate solution considering many vehicle owners are reluctant to immediately buy an electric vehicle. Electric vehicles are growing and petrol-powered cars are beginning to look less appealing every day. Froehlich was sure to clarify that if the “world turns fully electric, we will develop dedicated architectures.”