Five Reasons Why BMW Shouldn’t Go Fully Electric – Yet

BMW i, Models | June 19th, 2015 by 7
BMW x5 eDrive 14 750x500

Some believe that within the next two three decades, most car makers will be fully running on electric power or that conventional-powered vehicles will be …

Some believe that within the next two three decades, most car makers will be fully running on electric power or that conventional-powered vehicles will be the minority. So we had to ask the question: Should BMW go fully electric?

At the moment, the BMW i3 is the only fully electric bimmer, but there are rumors others will follow…eventually. Even though currently the i3 has a fairly limited driving range (ignoring in this argument the optional range extender), the hope is that the quick advancement in battery technology will lead to 200-300 miles EVs as being the norm. Chevy is already bragging about the 200 miles upcoming Volt.

Most cars owners expect certain things from their electric cars: range of at least 250 miles (400km), fast charging, and the usual comfort levels and performance. Tesla’s Model S certainly falls in that category, but then again, EVs are the only products they make.

BMW x5 eDrive 12 750x516

Recently, BMW unveiled several plug in hybrid models, from a 3 Series and X5 to the high-end 740e. These come with eDrive and a conventional engine offering a solution that caters to both fuel efficiency and driving performance. Many experts believe this is an intermediary, yet necessary step that will eventually lead to mainstream adoption of electric vehicles.

Related: The Rumored BMW i5 Could Be The Start of The Future

So we decided to look at some of the reasons why BMW shouldn’t go fully electric, at least for a while.

1. Market readiness

The target demographic for BMW and other premium automakers (35-50 years old, male) is quite conservative so a full switch to EVs would almost certainly impact sales. The idea of simply not pouring petrol/diesel into their cars, having to wait for cars to charge and having range anxiety, will discourage many buyers. Electric cars are still a niche and while the find home quickly within the tech savvy community, it has yet to penetrate other car communities.

2. Charging solutions

This is one of the biggest barriers to EV adoption. While the casual weekend driver or the BMW i3 daily city driver might be satisfied with the charging solutions available, it’s a completely different story for many of us who love to just drive off without thinking about the range.

Aside from California –debatable even there– fast charging stations are still scarce and not available in many large cities. So most of the electric car owners rely either on L2 public stations with a charge time of at least 2 hours or in the most fortunate cases, on their own L2 stations installed at home. Planning trips, analyzing routes and keeping track of charging stations – these are all items that currently are simply another burden on either the daily commute or the business trip.

3. Range

We talked about this in the introduction. The desired range is yet to be achieved – around 250 miles (400km).  While battery technology is advancing quickly, there is still a long way to go to cheap and high capacity cells that will allow an impressive driving range. Tesla Model S has been successfully using very large batteries, but everything comes at a cost to the consumer, in this case, a quite expensive electric sedan.

On the other hand, this is a way paved by the competitors that BMW must take as well, but hopefully the battery cost will drop and BMW would be able to offer a compelling product without a huge price spike.

4. Performance

Electric cars are fast. The 3.1 seconds fast Tesla Model S P85D is the perfect example. Amazing in a straight line, but could it keep up on the track with similarly-powered cars? Electric cars, with their low center of gravity (due to the batteries commonly placed into the floor of the vehicle), and removal of certain mechanical parts should provide, on paper, the driving dynamics one desires, but in true fairness the technology has yet to progress to that level of a supercar on the track.

5. Price

This is a no-brainer argument. Electric cars are expensive. The i3 starts in high $40,000s, while the Tesla Model S starts at around $75,000. Not cheap considering you still have to pay a lot for many options and the premium feel of the car leaves something to be desired. Even if you drive a lot of miles, converting the difference in price to conventional cars would still allow you thousands of miles of petrol or diesel motoring. When the electric power movement goes mainstream, the price will drop, but currently, that is simply not the case.

7 responses to “Five Reasons Why BMW Shouldn’t Go Fully Electric – Yet”

  1. Christian says:

    As a 35 year old male, I think my next car will be fully electric. I’m thinking of the Tesla model 3 in 2017. It would have a great range to a reasonable price (around $35.000). Now if BMW has an answer to the Tesla in 2017 I’ll absolutely consider it, but for now it looks to be the Tesla. Another thing is the taxes on petrol cars and diesels here in Sweden are getting higher and higher and more places in the EU are banning diesels from capitals. So by buying a fully electric I think I can secure a car that will last longer.

  2. CDspeed says:

    As you know I have an i3 (no REx), and the only thing I do with my 5-Series until I get rid of it, is drive it to keep the starter battery from dying. The charging infrastructure is great, last year it would have been really hard to go to the major city to the north of me because it’s 55 miles one way. After the first of the year CCS rapid chargers started popping up everywhere, now I can go for long drives even on the highway, and get 30 minute charges. If BMW doesn’t start producing even better electric cars I’m going elsewhere for a while. I’m already planning to purchase a Tesla, as far as my future purchases go, I consider gasoline power dead. I don’t think any car company needs to jump completely into electric cars just yet, but BMW could simply do as they planned, and expand BMW-i so they could offer something for everyone wile transitioning toward electrics. The more fully electric i cars there are, the longer they can keep M cars traditional.

  3. James says:

    Please republish your previous articles on:
    – “5 reasons why I won’t buy a digital camera – yet” and
    – “5 reasons why I won’t buy a flat screen TV – yet”
    as for things like ” but could it (EV) keep up on the track with similarly-powered cars” – are you serious?

    The faster the electrification begins, the faster we will stop cooking the planet.

    BMW has got it right – A full line of PHEV and EV options

  4. iDriver says:

    Also having an i3 BEV, I could not agree more with CDspeed.

    As a matter of fact, the five arguments in the article can be turned around to support the argument why BMW should asap extend the i models with a sedan, a cross-over etc.

    1. Market readiness
    Plug-in car sales are booming globally, and more car brands are joining this evolution, announcing new EV models for the near future – even long time adversaries of EVs are realising they have to join (Honda, Hyundai).
    Most importantly, new car models are never developed to please 100% of all potential customers’ needs – look at all the sub-niche products being launched lately, also by BMW. So why would there not be a sufficiently large customer segment for a new BEV i model? Tesla is definitely targeting the same customers as BMW for the upper segments – so the market is there and BMW could maintain if not gain market share by adding the right i models soon.
    It is always an option to build range-extended versions of the BEV model, if the fear is that some customers would not feel comfortable with range/charging. But at least that is cost effective as the same platform can be used and the range extender can easily be dropped when batteries have made sufficient progress or charging networks have become ubiquitous.
    2. Charging
    My experience in Europe is that there is already a good infrastructure and by the time a new model could be launched say two years from now, there will be DC fast chargers across all highways. With a range of 400-500 km an EV will hardly need to charge anywhere else than at home (wherever parked) or along the highway during longer trips.
    DC fast charging is also being tested at higher power levels (eg 100 kW) so that is likely to become additional convenience (30-45 minute break for lunch along the highway to get another 400-500 km).
    3. Range
    Tesla has already proven it, Audi is now using 90+ kWh batteries in the R8 e-tron and the upcoming Q6 cross-over, delivering over 400 km of range. If Audi gets 90kWh in a R8 sportscar, then BMW should be able to make a 400-500 km EV with probably a 70-80 kWh battery, given the use of CFRP and dual motors to increase efficiency. Such a range should be largely sufficient for 90% of drivers – and that is more than enough to launch any car model. In fact, such an EV will spend less time at charging stations en route than a petrol car will spend to get filled up with gas.
    4. Performance
    Comparison with a supercar is irrelevant if a normal car would be launched as next i model. People do not typically take normal cars to a race track. On public roads at legal speeds (except for some German highways – for as long as it will still be allowed!), the Tesla Model S P85D currently beats any BMW in any terms of performance, like it or not.
    5. Price
    I would like to understand the logic behind the decision by BMW to produce plug-in hybrids (with very poor all electric range) that cost more than a BEV and also to plan the launch of a hydrogen model (the price of which will be exorbitant or subsidised like the Toyota Mirai) but not to consider further BEV models … because of price?!

    Conclusion: I see no reasonable excuse for BMW not to deliver a premium BEV model by the time Tesla will deliver the Model 3.

  5. johnbl says:

    Vanja…It was thinking like you have posted that had kept the development of BEV dead…thanks to MUSK, who stepped outside the box, that we are were we are today! I hope BMW stays on track because everyone of your 5 points can be effectively addressed when a company like BMW puts its ingenuity and resources to it..

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