Okay, so that title is a bit dramatic. However, that doesn’t make it any less accurate. It’s no secret that the electrification of the auto industry is upon us. Automakers are scrambling to increase their EV portfolio, develop new technologies and prove that they can still compete when the industry eventually makes the most massive shift in its history. Two such automakers are BMW and, Mercedes-Benz parent company, Daimler.
Both BMW and Daimler have announced massive, comprehensive plans to drastically increase their EV model lineup. Both companies have pledged at least ten new electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles to be released by 2020, which is a wildly optimistic goal for both companies. However, despite having similar target numbers and dates, both BMW and Daimler are going about it in very different ways.
In this recent article from Motor Trend, it’s clear that BMW and Daimler disagree on the path to take to the electric future. While there’s really no problem with that, we won’t know who will have done it right until we learn that one of them has done it wrong. For instance, if one company far outperforms the other, in terms of EV production and sales, in the future, we’ll know which way was the right way to do it. And the company with the wrong way to EV will have wasted a devastating amount of money and time.
As far as plans go, Daimler will be creating an entirely new scalable BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) architecture, dedicated only to purely electric vehicles. The amount of money being invested into this endeavor is staggering — a whopping $12 billion. So Mercedes-Benz will have all of its standard, traditional ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) and Plug-In Hybrid cars while the Mercedes-Benz EQ lineup will be home to pure BEVs.
In stark contrast, BMW wants to develop two separate and scalable architectures but have them differentiated only by drivetrain. So there will be a front-wheel drive architecture and a rear-drive one, both flexible enough to accommodate ICE, BEV and Plug-In Hybrid powertrains. For instance, the BMW i Vision Dynamics Concept is an i Division vehicle that’s entirely electric, yet built on the 5 Series platform.
Both companies believe there’s is the right way to do it. Both also have good arguments. It will be very interesting to see which company ends up being right. We’ll just have to wait and see, I guess. Unfortunately, with the massive investments both companies are making, the wrong choice can be devastating.