At the start of the month, we wrote about BMW’s plans to roll out a plug-in hybrid option for every core model in its lineup. This isn’t a rumor, it’s confirmed by both statement and action. The automaker has announced it will be increasing production capacity at its plant in Dingolfing, adding two lines to the facility that makes electric motors and battery packs for BMW i models and eDrive hybrids.
So that’s going according to plan, but what if it’s only just the beginning?
Last week, a new theory surfaced, one with far more drastic implications to the auto market. Baron Funds is a globally-recognized investment group that prides itself on its “long-term, research driven” investments in companies dedicated to growth. In their quarterly report from September, they describe a visit by two of their research analysts to a number of BMW facilities. Here’s the relevant excerpt:
“One more thing. While many car companies doubt electric cars will ultimately represent a large portion of new car sales, BMW is not one of those companies. Two of our research analysts recently visited BMW’s headquarters in Munich, as well as its electric vehicle and carbon fiber assembly plants in Leipzig, Germany, and its battery pack assembly plant and research facility in Dingolfing, Germany. The BMW financial team believes a revolution in drive train is underway. We believe that BMW will likely phase out internal combustion engines over the next 10 years!”
Well then. That’s a bold assessment to say the least, and yet organizations like Baron Funds don’t persist by making outlandish guesses.
Still, the claim raises a number of questions. For one, we want to look at expectations for Germany fleet fuel economy over the next several years. According to the Global Fuel Economy Initiative, car manufacturers within the European Union have agreed to meet a standard of 57.6 mpg by 2020. That’s ambitious compared to American standards, which is aiming for 54.5 mpg by 2025. At home, BMW is facing heightened pressure to increase efficiency, which certainly explains the new dedication to hybrid vehicles. Could BMW really be so ambitious as to eliminate the need for the offending gallons entirely, though?
Surely we have to consider the enthusiasts in this situation. There must be a subset of people who love BMW for their driftastic M powered sports cars, and while the i8 makes an excellent case for hybrid performance cars, to do away with gasoline-powered cars entirely seems farfetched. Speaking of the i8, there are rumors that BMW i is working on a 500 horsepower model that’s only gas-powered, what some are calling the i8 S. If that car were fully realized, would it be so limited as to live and die within the span of a decade?
We’re only asking these questions because we see it as our duty. What we certainly aren’t saying is that BMW couldn’t pull it off. With the kinds of innovative minds at work there, no task is insurmountable. The whole explosion in a can thing has probably had its hundred years in the sun, and it may very well be time to move on. It will be interesting to see if BMW can produce an alternative that captures the same driving spirit.
Tell us your thoughts. Do you think it’s realistic for BMW to phase out internal combustion engines in ten years? Is it a goal they should be trying to achieve?
Leith BMW is happy to be your preferred BMW dealer in the Raleigh area.
This story originally appeared on Jalopnik.