While many automakers active in Europe have rushed to set a cut-off date for the internal combustion engine, BMW is not in a hurry. Well, not the core brand as Rolls-Royce will become a pure EV brand in 2030 while MINI will follow suit early in the next decade. Oliver Zipse, the head honcho in Munich, has repeatedly said it would be too premature to ban sales of new cars with ICEs from 2035, and he had a new opportunity to do so.
Speaking this week during the Innovation Day event organized in Erlangen, Bavaria, the 58-year-old executive reiterated his warning about a potentially premature ICE ban: “We think it’s wrong to switch off the combustion engine in Europe. The industry will look different in terms of scale and structure than it does today if it goes to just one technology.”
He went on to say that a “hard shutdown” of the internal combustion engine would generate “distortions that nobody here can control anymore.” As for an alternative to this increasingly likely scenario from the middle of the decade, Oliver Zipse promoted fuel cell technology once again. He argues it would be quicker to build the necessary hydrogen refilling stations than the time it’s going to take to have the infrastructure ready for battery-powered EVs.
BMW’s top brass explained it would require only two days to convert a traditional refueling station that has gasoline and diesel to hydrogen. He expressed his commitment to fuel cells furthermore: “That’s why we firmly believe in hydrogen. It will come and it will come at BMW, I am very, very sure of that.”
To that end, BMW is starting a short production run of the iX5 of no more than 100 hydrogen-fueled SUVs. A mass-production model will follow as early as 2025 with help from Toyota, and we’ve recently learned that the Neue Klasse platform is being engineered to accommodate a fuel cell.