BMW Says European Customers Aren’t Demanding Electric Vehicles

For years we’ve been hearing about BMW’s aggressive plans to rollout electric cars. So it came as a bit of a shock when BMW’s Director of Development Klaus Frölich told a round-table interview that “There are no customer requests for BEVs (electric vehicles). None. There are regulator requests for BEVs, but no customer requests.”

Let’s pick up our collective jaws from the floor and dig into this a bit. Clear Klaus was unloading some frustration in this interview because we went on and on:

He also admitted there was some truth in Transport and Environment’s accusations that protecting profits was a major factor holding back BEVs and plug-ins until the EU’s new 2020-21 emissions regulations kick in.

“They (plug-ins) are not more expensive than BEVs. They are thousands more expensive than internal-combustion cars but we can’t charge that to customers and those (emissions) regulations are reducing our profit pool,” Frölich says.

“We can’t have the same margin on those cars. We know. The level is between the internal-combustion margin is halfway more but if we charged the customers for that cost, we would have downsizing with customers going from a 3 Series to a 1 Series.”

He also slammed the lack of governmental support for BEVs in Europe’s major car markets, pointing out that they were selling well in Norway, Sweden and The Netherlands with high levels of support, but not in Germany, France, Italy or the United Kingdom.

“You change the customers with incentives, not change the cars. In Munich, it’s 50c per kWh and a four-cylinder diesel is cheaper to drive than a BEV,” Frölich said.

“We are not late to BEVs. I think we are coming at the right time because we don’t have enough consumers who buy these cars. We need €70,000-€100,000 and this is not the market segment where you can make volumes.”

The range argument for BEVs was also “bullshit”, according to the engineer, insisting bigger range was a nice idea until volume customers, rather than niche customers, were asked to pay for it.

Fascinating to see the struggle BMW is dealing with in this seismic shift from ICE to EVs. In short BMW sees the market for EVs to be predominantly China and California until there are more governments supporting to technology with incentives.

While we’ve heard for years BMW was aggressively preparing to move to electric, hearing now that they believe fuel burning cars have at least 30 years left on the market is a bit of a shock.

Read the entire interview at Forbes.

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