There’s no denying the dramatic shift occurring in the auto industry. The internal combustion engine is slowly being phased out as electric and hybrid models are taking over. Admittedly, a fully electrified takeover won’t occur for at least a decade, maybe two. But the change is happening and it’s happening quicker than many of us had anticipated. A lot of the reason why is that electric car customers are often hooked after their first taste. According to Stefan Juraschek, BMW’s head of electric powertrains, once customers get a taste of the EV life, they never want to back to internal combustion.
Juraschek recently sat down with Digital Trends to discuss the future of electric powertrains. He claims that electrification needs to work in tandem with gasoline and diesel engines at the moment. “First of all, we are convinced that we need more than one solution.” However, he also recognizes the shift happening among customers. “Customer behavior is changing. People are becoming more and more attracted to the experience of driving a hybrid or an electric car.”
And the customers that have already had that experience seem to not want to go backward. “We sent several hundred i3 owners a survey last year. Ninety percent of them told us they’re not going back to a car with an internal combustion engine. On the hybrid, we’ve got about 60 percent who are staying. Thirty percent will switch to a pure electric vehicle, while only 10 percent are going back to a combustion engine. Driving electric is attractive.” said Juraschek.
That is an enormous rate of customers who are making the switch and staying there, which is surprising among BMW customers. BMW, as a brand, is more known for its performance machines, so to see its customers favoring efficient, electric transportation proves how good those cars can be. It’s also a good indicator of where the industry is headed. Electric cars aren’t just for hippies that wear socks with sandals and hemp t-shirts. And hybrids aren’t just boring econo-boxes anymore that seemingly run on a blend of kale smoothies and soy lattes. Electric and hybrid cars are becoming more exciting, more dynamic and far more attractive to customers, even those who enjoy sports cars and performance-oriented driving.
It will be interesting to see what the market does within the next ten years or so. How soon will electric cars become the norm and gasoline cars only remain for ultra high-performance machines? How soon will battery range increase to the point of being at least almost equal to gasoline cars? And how soon with charge times be fast enough, as well as charge points be accessible enough, for customers to feel comfortable making the switch from gasoline? These are questions that still need to be answered. But one thing is for certain and it’s that customers are willing to at least try to make the switch and once they do, they don’t seem to want to go back.