“A BMW must also remain a BMW, whether it is an EV, hybrid or conventionally powered vehicle”. Well, that’s reassuring. But that’s not to say BMW doesn’t see enormous changes in drivetrain technology over the next 50 years. Engineering News sat down with Klaus Fröhlich BMW management board member responsible for development chatted about what’s next and what that means for BMW.
Fröhlich believes the world is likely to have an electric vehicle (EV) population of around 10% in the next ten years. In 50 years’ time, the majority of power trains will be electric. This slow rate of EV expansion pleases Fröhlich, even if environmental lobbyists perhaps desire a quicker ascendance of the zero-emissions technology. Engineering a petrol or diesel engine to its best performance can take “10 to 20 loops”.
A model such as the 7 Series plug-in hybrid is on its third loop, with work on the fifth-generation engine system destined for launch in 2020 and beyond already under way. “We have to go through these loops until we have robustness; until we have costs under control,” explains Fröhlich. And it is not all about the EV yet. With 90% of the world’s cars still using petrol and diesel engines by 2025, BMW cannot neglect development work on its conventional engines.
“It has to be modular. I have to find a way for it to work,” says Fröhlich. “We have defined a certain cell standard millimetre height so that we can build new batteries in 50 years that have the same cell standard, even if the chemistry and energy density will be very different. This means that, when your car fails after 15 years and you go to a BMW shop to have a new battery fitted, you can do so.”
Fascinating stuff. You can read much more at The Engineering News.