It’s already been officially announced that BMW exec Oliver Zipse will be replacing Harald Krueger as CEO of the BMW Group. However, prior to that announcement, Zipse actually had some interesting ideas on how to lead the brand into the future of electrification. Ideas that may have been part of why Zipse got the promotion.
At a recent event at the MINI plant in Oxford, Zipse told journalists that “Flexibility is key,” when it comes to EVs and electrification in general. Because the future of electrification is more difficult to predict that that of traditional vehicles, he feels the brand must be flexible in its upcoming products.“If we predict the success of 3 series, we can be pretty much spot on,” he said. “To predict electromobility is much more difficult. If you are not flexible either way, it’s very difficult for you to succeed in the market. Succeeding is staying profitable.”
Part of that flexibility is having vehicles architectures that are not solely developed for EVs or internal combustion engines. In fact, Zipse was definitive in that he doesn’t want BMW to do what Volkswagen is currently doing, with bespoke EV architectures. That notion is going to spark a bit of debate because there are several automotive execs and engineers that feel the exact opposite is true.
Another aspect of how to develop EVs in a cost-effective manner that helps keep profit margins up is production and assembly. Zipse wants to keep the same, or close to the same, efficiency in each production facility, even with multiple sorts of powertrains, be it internal combustion or electrification.
At the moment, production is quick and efficient. “We have a 72-second cycle in our plants,” said Zipse of each factory work station. “In our German plants, we are partially below 60 seconds. To integrate different drivetrains in a plant without losing efficiency — that’s the secret.” That high efficiency can help keep profits high while also offering multiple powertrains.
While that may seem like a cynical business approach, to make it entirely about profit margins, those high profit margins allow BMW to invest in new tech. So maybe Zipse is onto something, maybe he’s not. But he’s been hired almost specifically because Krueger wasn’t getting the job done in terms of electrification and has allowed BMW to fall behind its competitors. So Zipse needs to be right.
[Source: Automotive News Europe]