When it comes to electrification, carbon neutrality, and the future of mobility, BMW certainly stands out among the crowd. That’s not to say that BMW is making better EVs than everyone else. Instead, it means that it’s approaching electrification differently than everyone else. The man leading that charge is CEO Oliver Zipse, whose unique approach to BMW’s future was enough for Newsweek to name him Auto Disruptors Visionary of the Year.
Zipse seems to zig while other brands zag. As competitors like Audi, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Volvo, Jaguar, and Ford are pushing for full electrification within the next 10 years, BMW isn’t. Instead, BMW is doubling down on internal combustion as a useful means of propulsion past 2030. Zipse also sees hydrogen as an important piece to the very complex puzzle that is saving the planet, calling it the “missing piece of the jigsaw,” during the iX5 Hydrogen’s release.
BMW and Zipse are nearly along in their approach to hydrogen fuel. While hydrogen fuel cell technology is certainly interesting and has its benefits, most automotive brands have given up on it as a viable option, instead embracing full electrification. However, that’s not to say that BMW hasn’t embraced battery-electric vehicles. In fact, most of BMW’s vehicles moving forward will be fully electric, once the Neue Klasse chassis hits the market.
The Neue Klasse chassis is an interesting about-face from BMW. A couple of years ago, BMW was talking about its “Power of Choice” chassis and how it would be flexible for both powertrains. However, after seeing that flexible chassis were dead ends, BMW ditched that for the Neue Klasse, which will be an entirely electric chassis architecture that will underpin a wide variety of cars toward the end of the decade.
However, one of Zipse’s biggest impacts on BMW has been toward its circularity. BMW is attempting to be as circular as possible, when it comes to manufacturing, recycling as much of its production as it can. If raw materials, batteries, and even entire car parts can be recycled, reused, and given new life, BMW will further decrease its carbon footprint and bring the brand closer to its goal of true carbon neutrality. Zipse’s belief as that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to curbing the effects of climate change and that BMW must do everything it can to help, not just make EVs.
BMW is quite secretive when it comes to its plans for the future, as it seems to have a scheme that’s slowly unfolding on its own. Brands like Volkswagen and Mercedes have been quite open about the future EVs and have several either on the market already or set to debut soon. While BMW is working on many new EVs, it’s been tight-lipped about them. However, it does seem as though Zipse has a plan and is sticking to it, even if that plan may be very different from everyone else’s.