In an interview with Neue Zürcher Zeitung, BMW CEO Oliver Gypsies spoke of possible new dependencies as the European Union prepares for a 2035 ban on petrol and diesel vehicles. On the one hand, the reliance on petrol and diesel is obvious. The war begins in Ukraine. But at the same time, the BMW boss says that when the car industry is to be transformed into a fully electric fleet, new reliance on other raw material suppliers will be inevitable.
Therefore, Zipse is promoting BMW’s flexible approach to powertrain manufacturing. While focusing on fully electric vehicles, BMW wants to continue production of petrol and diesel vehicles for the foreseeable future. Naturally, BMW is undoubtedly moving towards battery-electric drives, and this can be seen in the portfolio of current and upcoming electric vehicles: i3, i4, i5, i7, iX3 and iX. For the first time, the iX1 and i5, along with the BMW iX5 Hydrogen, are also planned for next year.
But the EU has different plans for the car industry. The regulations call for a ban on new vehicles, including internal combustion engines and plug-in hybrids, starting in 2035. Even hydrogen can only be produced if it is propagated accordingly and produced in a climate-neutral manner. From a manufacturer’s perspective, Zipse sees batteries in the fleets of huge electric vehicles as a central component, equipped with a plethora of raw materials obtained exclusively outside of Europe. This solves the current dependence on previous suppliers, but in turn creates new dependence on other suppliers.
The BMW boss was clear in the interview that his statement was in no way arguing against electro-mobility or electric vehicles. Instead, he said it was a precaution against burying the combustion engine prematurely and in a hurry as a drivetrain alternative. His proposal calls for an assessment of the transformation that the European Union has experienced by 2027 or 2028. Has the ramp-up of e-mobility worked as planned? Have customers adopted new drives and is the expansion of charging infrastructure keeping pace with new volumes? Some of these questions may need to be answered.
Of course, BMW and other car manufacturers are already calling for improvements in charging infrastructure as the number of electric vehicles is currently growing five times faster than their battery charging infrastructure. So while the electric future sounds great from many perspectives, it brings new challenges and a complex transformation time. Here is the full NZZ interview.