As motor manufacturers, almost without exception, move rapidly towards offering electric or hybrid versions of their ranges, and some countries are considering phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles altogether in the not too distant future, it comes as no surprise to see car makers touting their commitment to ‘alternative mobility’.
BMW says electrification is one of the central pillars of the BMW Group’s corporate strategy NUMBER ONE > NEXT and the company has announced that all brands and model series can be electrified, with a full-electric or plug-in hybrid drivetrain being offered in addition to the combustion engine option.
Additional electrified models will be brought to market in the coming years and beyond 2020, the company’s next generation vehicle architecture will be structured in order to enable new models to be offered as a full-electric vehicle.
The Group announced recently that the new battery-electric MINI will be a variant of the brand’s core three-door Hatch model. This fully electric car will go into production in 2019, increasing the choice of MINI powertrains to include petrol and diesel internal combustion engines, a plug-in hybrid and a battery electric vehicle.
The battery electric MINI’s electric drivetrain will be built at the BMW Group’s e-mobility centre at Plants Dingolfing and Landshut in Bavaria before being integrated into the car at Plant Oxford, which is the main production location for the MINI 3-door Hatch.
Oliver Zipse, BMW AG Management Board member for Production said, “BMW Group Plants Dingolfing and Landshut play a leading role within our global production network as the company’s global competence centre for electric mobility. Our adaptable production system is innovative and able to react rapidly to changing customer demand. If required, we can increase production of electric drivetrain motor components quickly and efficiently, in line with market developments.”
By 2025, the BMW Group expects electrified vehicles to account for between 15-25 per cent of sales. However, factors such as regulation, incentives and charging infrastructure will play a major role in determining the scale of electrification from market to market.
In order to react quickly and appropriately to customer demand, the BMW Group has developed a flexible system across its global production network. In the future, “the production system will create structures that enable our production facilities to build models with a combustion engine, plug-in hybrid or fully electric drive train at the same time”.
The BMW Group currently produces electrified models at ten plants worldwide; since 2013, all the significant elements of the electric drivetrain for these vehicles come from the company’s plants in Dingolfing and Landshut.
Dingolfing additionally builds the plug-in hybrid versions of the BMW 5 Series and the BMW 7 Series and from 2021, it will build the BMW i NEXT. The Group has invested a total of more than 100 million euros in electro-mobility at the Dingolfing site to date, with investment continuing as the range of electrified vehicles further expands.
The new, fully-electric MINI is one of a series of electrified models to be launched in the coming years. In 2018, the BMW i8 Roadster will become the newest member of the BMW i family. The all-electric BMW X3 has been announced for 2020, and the BMW iNEXT is due in 2021.
Says the German auto giant: “Today, the BMW Group offers the widest range of electrified vehicles of any car manufacturer in the world, with nine models already on the market. These range from the full-electric BMW i3 to the company’s newest electrified model, the MINI Countryman Plug-in Hybrid, which is produced by VDL Nedcar in the Netherlands”.
The company has committed to selling 100,000 electrified vehicles in 2017 and will have a total of 200,000 electrified vehicles on the roads by the end of the year.
I suspect few of those vehicles will be sold in Cyprus because we are lagging way behind in the infrastructure to support vehicle electrification: charging facilities are few and far between, as well as being expensive. What’s needed is a systematic review into availability and affordability and plans for smart charging options that will reduce the risk of overload on the grid.