European automakers will need to invest heavily to halve fleet emissions to 59 grams per kilometer by 2030 from a target of 95g/km that takes full effect next year. A decade from now, BMW expects every second car it sells in Europe will either be a plug-in hybrid or a battery-electric vehicle to meet targets.
"In our view, market forecasts are too uncertain to warrant inflexible, electro-only platforms," BMW executive Udo Haenle told Automotive News Europe. "What we don't want is for our plants to operate below capacity," Haenle said. The executive last month transitioned from his job as Senior Vice President of Production Strategy to a new role in engineering.
Financially, this approach makes sense because in the early years of the market's transition to electrified vehicles factories can quickly adapt to changing demand for combustion-driven and battery-powered vehicles. "Building a new plant would cost roughly 1 billion euros, whereas ramping up existing facilities to produce battery-electric vehicles will amount to a three-digit-million-euro investment, mainly for body shop and assembly," Haenle said.
BMW will retain its current strategy of one architecture for front-wheel-drive and one for rear-wheel-drive cars. This common distinction within the combustion engine world is not found on EV-only platforms. Critics say that BMW's strategy puts a premium on finances over innovation and could lead to uncompetitive products. Haenle argued that won't be the case at BMW. "We are not going to compromise on anything that will impact the customer," he said.
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