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Alpina lukewarm on EVs

ICE ICE baby: Alpina will continue only with internal-combustion engines for the time being.

BMW EVs will not alter Alpina’s direction but plug-in hybrids on radar longer term

25 Jul 2019

BMW’s rapid uptake of full-electric and hybrid models will not influence the product rollout of high-performance partner Alpina Automobiles, which will continue its focus on internal combustion engines in the short term.


As GoAuto has reported, BMW announced last month that it will speed up its rollout of alternative-powertrain vehicles, with 25 new electrified models to be released by 2023 – including 12 all-electric offerings.


However Alpina, which makes comfortable and luxurious versions of BMW performance models, has revealed that it is not in any hurry to introduce electric power to its line-up which consists of turbocharged six- and eight-cylinder petrol engines and six-cylinder diesels.


Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the B5 Touring in Melbourne this week, Alpina Automobiles chief executive Andreas Bovensiepen said plug-in hybrids would be part of Alpina’s medium- and long-term plans, but the technology was not yet appropriate for the luxury marque.


“In the long term or mid-term, yes, but … now you are in the third or fourth generation the (hybrid) technology is getting better and better, batteries are getting more range, the whole electronic black boxes are quite big currently with the power units and they will shrink in the next years,” he said.


“Currently you have some side effects like a smaller luggage compartment and smaller fuel tank, so we think we should wait until the next generation, which is some years from now.”


As for full-electric models, Mr Bovensiepen said there were no current models in BMW’s range that would suit the Alpina brand.


“For a full-electric car, we don’t think i3 is a good base for an Alpina, it’s not the kind of car customers look for and it’s the only full-electric BMW currently available,” he said. “So we have to wait until BMW has more in the portfolio.”


He added that the way Alpina customers liked to drive, namely at higher speeds and over longer distances, was not conducive to EV powertrains, citing Tesla as an example.


“Especially our customer is more sporty oriented, he likes to accelerate hard, he likes to go fast especially in Europe or Germany, and if you go fast with a full-electric vehicle, the battery runs out quite quickly,” he said.


“So if you look in Germany at a Tesla Model S and Model 3, in the first four weeks they go fast, let’s say 160km/h and after four weeks they go 90 or 100, or maximum 120km/h on a German motorway, otherwise the battery runs down fast.


“So I think in the short term it’s not what our customers are expecting – hybrid in some years from now with even better technology, yes.”


The Alpina range in Australia consist of the B3 sedan, B4 S coupe and convertible, B5 sedan and B7 sedan, with the B5 Touring wagon and XD3 SUV both arriving this year.

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