Economy, Auto

BMW’s “Future-Proof” EV Strategy

BMW is hedging its bets on the future by planning combustion, hybrid and electric versions of its core nameplates—with all three varieties capable of coming from the same assembly line.
The idea, BMW executives say, is to flex production among power train types according to the whims of the market. Today’s uncertain forecasts for electric vehicles are the motivator, Automotive News reported.
“Nobody knows how many electric vehicles you will sell in 2020, 2021 and 2025,” BMW CEO Harald Krueger said. “You do not know how many plug-in hybrids you will sell, and you do not know how many combustion engines you will sell. The only answer is flexibility [to] deliver all three.”
The approach can help the automaker avoid having to idle some factories while other plants cannot keep up when demand diverges from forecasts. The strategy also calls for BMW to develop “future-proof” platforms that can handle electric power trains as well as combustion engines.
The X3 crossover and 3-series sedan are among the first vehicles likely to offer all available power train types.
BMW has confirmed it will introduce an electric X3 in 2020 and an electric 3 series is expected in 2019 or 2020, after the compact sedan is redesigned. Both the X3 and 3 series will move to BMW’s CLAR cluster architecture, a highly flexible vehicle platform that allows for any of the planned power trains.
“The strategy for the future is to integrate all drive trains, whether it is purely battery-electric, whether it is a hybrid or a purely combustion engine,” said Oliver Zipse, BMW AG board member in charge of production.
“You will see battery-electric right after diesel right after hybrid on the assembly line. That is the only way we think to respond to the necessary flexibility because we don’t not know the demand.”
The approach is a major departure from the philosophy employed today. When BMW launched its i3 electric compact and i8 plug-in hybrid sports car in 2013 and 2014, it created dedicated production systems in its Leipzig, Germany, assembly plant.

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