It’s quite obvious that almost all auto manufacturers are currently concerned with what Tesla has made and how that will shape the automotive world as we know it. Consumers seems to be more and more focused on eco-friendly offerings and electric cars definitely seem to fit the bill. While some years ago some customers and enthusiasts might’ve thought it was just another phase, BMW considers the electrification of mass production cars to now be irreversible.
The move to electric powertrains will take a while though and that means the timeline for the demise of the internal combustion engine is still rather unclear. The ICE will most certainly assist with the phasing in of the hybrid and electric vehicles to come as the battery technology is improved but that may take a hard-to-guess number of years. Nevertheless, according to BMW, those who fail to recognize this trend will suffer on the long term. Speaking to Car Advice at Frankfurt, BMW’s boss of electric mobility, Dirk Arnold warned that every market is different though.
“I don’t think it’s black and white. As far as we can see that across the world, you have the movement of electrification in different levels and different speeds. We have some countries like Norway, then you have countries like Belgium, Austria, where there is investments and infrastructures… in those countries and California, electrification is really on the rise,” Arnold said. “We see other markets where it is so-so. [But] that’s why we believe it’s irreversible – electrification of the car, there is no doubt. Will it be tomorrow or in a week or ten years, it’s hard to say, [but] we expect for the BMW group that roughly by 2025, 20 per cent of new car sales will be electric cars,” he added.
The next hurdle to be cleared will be range anxiety, an artificial issue that simply shows how long it takes people to get used to a new way of traveling. “We taught the customers that your personal mobility is endless, just short break [at fuel station] and you’re good to go. Now we are offering a different mobility, charging, you need to be planning ahead of time to manage all your travel needs. This is new, people think about it and there will be a group of customers that have different demands,” said Arnold.
Even this problem will be solved as technology evolves but it will take some time to do it. Battery capacities will increase in small incremental steps as costs go down but the process will take time. In the meantime, infrastructure needs to be put in place and make sure it is ready by the time the next generation of EVs are launched and that’s something that doesn’t fall exclusively on the shoulders of car makers worldwide.