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Paris show: BMW committed to diesel

Oil burning: BMW’s head of development Klaus Froehlich says diesels will stay, but there might be fewer variants.

BMW R&D boss says diesels will continue but EV rollout will take time

BMW logo8 Oct 2018

By TIM NICHOLSON in PARIS

BMW’s R&D boss has reaffirmed the company’s commitment to diesel powertrains and stated that the rollout of electro-mobility globally might not happen as quickly as some industry pundits have suggested.
 
Speaking to Australian journalists at the Paris motor show last week, BMW AG board member for development Klaus Froehlich said the company had been successful in developing cleaner diesel powertrains and criticised European politicians for panning the fuel on the back of the Volkswagen Group diesel emissions scandal.
 
“The diesel development from BMW perspective is quite dramatic,” he said. “We have, I think, more or less the best diesels. All test show that we have the lowest emissions. 
 
“We have a spiral in Europe where every politician sees only one solution – diesel bashing. From a CO2 and customer perspective, a modern diesel is a very good solution. Especially for heavy, high-performing cars.”
 
Mr Froehlich added that while the company was committed to diesels, in the longer term there might be fewer diesel variants in BMW’s line-up.
 
“I will perhaps not have three different specs. At the moment we have 3.0 litre mono turbocharger, twin turbocharger and quad turbocharger, so perhaps I will only have one solution with two performance levels or something. 
 
“Yes, four and six cylinders will remain in the market. And I will have at least four power derivatives on the diesels. 
 
“But I think the high-end diesels, for example M50d, it is a challenge to do anyway. It is a challenge to comply to future future future emissions and the market is small.”
 
Mr Froehlich said he was “very optimistic” about the future of diesel engines, and added that Australians had a “very realistic” view of how the electro-mobility rollout will occur in the next two-to-three years. 
 
He also said it was optimistic to assume all markets would adopt electric vehicles at the same time.
 
“A very optimistic scenario says 30 per cent of BMWs will be pure electric or plug-in hybrids and seven per cent will be combustion. If you assume that, from this 30 per cent, half of them are plug-in hybrids – I have 85 per cent in my portfolio in 2030 with a combustion engine. 
 
“I think the discussion about electro-mobility is a little bit irrational. But we are prepared. We already purchased … cobalt and lithium from 2025-35. We already have the second life in place for consumers or for grid stabilisation, we have built these battery farms. We are prepared to deliver. 
 
“But the world – Russia, Australia, a large portion of the world – they will have combustion engines for a very long time.”
 
Mr Froehlich went into details about the next-generation platform that will underpin most of its models, saying it will be capable of using an internal combustion engine (ICE), plug-in hybrid or battery electric powertrain.
 
He did not commit to a fully electric 3 Series, but added that the upcoming i4 – previewed by the i Vision Dynamics concept from last year’s Frankfurt motor show – would fill that gap.
 
“You have seen the i4 which will be in 2021,” he said. “It is a 3 Series-class four-door coupe. This car will be ICE plus PHEV. Perhaps in China, customer need to have 3 Series as battery electric vehicle, I don’t know. But in the same class you know the 4 Series Gran Coupe today – there will be an i4 fully electric in 2021. In the size of the 3 Series. 
 
“I can do everything in every car, but I will not do everything in every car. Because if I do a plug-in hybrid 8 Series, it will be an effort but no one is interested.”
 
Mr Froehlich said the iNext that also arrives in 2021 would be a showcase of BMW’s electric powertrains, as well as its autonomous and connected technologies, adding that the existing architecture underpinning its models would be updated in 2021-22.
 
“They get fifth-generation electric powertrains which will be big, big progress. And of course the autonomous driving things. Infotainment connectivity, 5G. Everything is in development for 2021. All for iNext. 
 
“Everything I have to develop anyway is compressed in one car. It helps. Autonomous driving is not easy. A Mars mission I call it.” 

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