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BMW details plans for electrification

BMW has no plans of scrapping ICEs, but says the future is “undoubtedly” electrified

7 Aug 2020

BMW has detailed its electrified future and some of the sustainability measures it is implementing to minimise its environmental impact, with the big focus – for the time being at least – being on plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).


Speaking to international media this week about the German prestige car-maker’s plans for electrification, BMW i and electromobility spokesperson Wieland Bruch said the future of the car was “undoubtedly more and more electric” with the big point of interest being how to get there.


While some brands have jumped head-first into either the battery-electric (BEV) or PHEV markets and others have only just dipped their toes into mild-hybrid (MHEV) technology, BMW says it is convinced it should maintain a broad customer choice when it comes to powertrains.


“There is not the one technical solution visible for all the different customer needs around the world, and therefore the BMW Group will continue to develop and produce gasoline and diesel engines,” Mr Bruch said.


“We are not one of these manufacturers who are saying they will not bring next-generations of gasoline and diesel engines to market.


“We at BMW think the internal combustion engine (ICE) still has a bright future and also a lot of potential for further evolution in terms of efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions.”


As a result of this commitment to ICEs, the brand has commenced a range-wide rollout of 48V mild-hybrid systems with two-thirds of the current line-up set to have the systems fitted by the end of next year.


According to Mr Bruch, the MHEV rollout will not only help reduce the CO2 emissions of ICE vehicles, but also negate the need for a self-charging hybrid (HEV) system, claiming that the MHEVs will achieve the same results as a HEV setup.


“We believe that if we put hybrid technology into the car, meaning high voltage electronics, battery and high voltage motor, then we should exploit the full potential of hybrid technology, and that is only the case in terms of plug-in hybrid vehicles,” he said.


“So plug-in hybrid vehicles is the main road we go when it goes to electrification besides from fully battery-electric cars.”


While PHEVs and EVs are clearly the priority, the Bavarian brand has also started development of its own hydrogen fuel cell powertrain it expects to be ready in 2022 before going into mass production in 2025.


As previously reported, BMW has set a goal of offering 25 electrified vehicles by 2023 and reducing its CO2 emissions by 33 per cent per vehicle “from the supply chain through production to the end of the use phase” by 2030.


One of the ways the brand is planning to achieve this sustainability goal away from the efficiency of the vehicles themselves is through the sustainable sourcing of the raw materials needed to produce the batteries for electrified vehicles, those being lithium, cobalt, nickel, magnesium and graphite.


“We decided that from now on we will buy all the lithium and cobalt that is needed for our electrified car’s batteries – we will buy it ourselves on the market so we have full control over the source and where it comes from,” Mr Bruch said.


“Then we hand over the lithium and cobalt to those suppliers who are manufacturing the battery cells according to our specification.”


Specifically, the brand’s lithium will be sourced from Australia in a €540 million ($A891m) partnership with Ganfeng while the cobalt will be sourced from Morocco in a €100 million ($A165m) deal with Managem Group.


At this stage, the BMW Group offers just two all-electric vehicles, those being the i3 city car and the recently launched Mini Cooper SE.


The compact duo will be joined by four new offerings by the end of next year – the iX3 and iNext SUVs, i4 sedan and next generation 7 Series – while the recently confirmed electric versions of the 5 Series and X1 are due here sometime by 2023.


As for plug-in hybrids, there are currently five on offer here, comprising of the BMW 330e, 530e, 745e and X5 45e as well as the Mini Countryman S E ALL4 PHEV.

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