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Krüger: “We will not make cars that can not be driven”

Automotive News

The priorities of the company go through electrification and the autonomous car

Claims the value of their vehicles when transmitting emotions to the customer

“In the future, the driver of a BMW Group vehicle can always decide whether to drive or not. Obviously we sell cars, but also emotions, dreams, passions. Robo-taxis are not like that. ” In the midst of the biggest BMW Group product offensive in recent years, Harald Krüger, the chairman of its board of directors, defines the future of his company by 2021.

“The first priority is the electrification of our range. We will launch 14 models in the next two years, including the first Mini 100% electric in 2019, an electric X3 a year later and then the BMW iNext, in which we will apply the autonomous driving technology in its first developments.

Up to April, the company sold 25,000 electric vehicles (3% of its registrations) and is on pace to reach 100,000 units with this technology by the end of 2017, although they explain: “We will electrify all brands to have between 20% and a 25% in our mix in 2025. For this we will invest in increasing the capacity of our factories ». And, according to Krüger, “95% of those who have bought one of our electrified models will buy another one when they change it.”

But they will not give up on traditional combustion engines, which in 2025 will still be 75% of their vehicles. ‘At present, CO2 reduction targets in the EU are not possible without diesel, 15% to 20% more efficient than gasoline. And we have to continue to invest in this technology because it is the customer who decides and there are countries where the proportion of diesel is growing this year. If you drive between 30,000 and 50,000 kilometers a year, the total cost of use makes it worthwhile. ”

The solution is to make production more flexible, even if that means giving up a specific platform for trams. “Specific platforms have their disadvantages. When we are in transition and one or another technology suffers a break in their sales, what do we do with the factories and with the people? How can we forecast the demand variations of a global company that sells in so many different countries and regions? That is why we started in 2010 by adding the plug-ins to the combustion engine plants and we will continue with the pure electric ones. ”

But in addition to powertrains, BMW will add new cars to its range, such as the i8 Roadster in 2018, a Series 8 saloon or the all-new X2 and X7, a segment that in 2020 could account for up to 40% of its sales.

BMW may be the company that most electrical components develops. “Battery cells are the only thing we do not produce. But we will do so in the future, since technology is based on them. The next technological leap will be there, we have to get a thorough knowledge of all the details and BMW is today the manufacturer who knows the most. For example, knowing the cost of the raw materials used in the electric motor is crucial to the final cost, especially now that it is much more expensive than one of combustion. Another example is if you are able to dispense with a raw material that is very scarce. But also, knowing the product, you can make you have BMW driving, which offers the right feelings that the customer demands.

Instead, BMW has partnered with Mobileye, Intel and Delphi for the development of the standalone car, “something so complex that no supplier or manufacturer can complete it by itself. The radar and the vision of the control systems is provided by Mobileye, Intel reduces the size of all the necessary computers and Delphi will bring a great knowledge in software “.

Nevertheless, BMW and its partners work with open source software. «Adjusting the driving of a BMW, Mini or Rolls will be a knowledge we will always have. But it’s the same thing we do with the shared company Nokia Here with Daimler and VW. We all have the same data, but we offer different services. ”

And would BMW be willing to work with its competition in the development of the autonomous car as they do with Daimler, VW and Ford to achieve a rapid loading infrastructure for Europe? “I do not know, but we would be open. If someone wants to join us we would value it, but it should be beneficial for both parties, because otherwise, it would not work. BMW can adapt quickly to different partners, because for me that is a sign of whether in the future a company will be successful or not. On the other hand, I repeat, we sell emotions and feelings, not only transport from A to B.

Krüger also points to the European 5G connection as an urgent need for better digitization and connectivity as it must provide rapid access in Europe for data to flow correctly.

About Brexit, the head of the BMW Group expects a “pragmatic solution. We have important commitments on both sides. For Mini, the UK is the biggest market. ”

DAVID ARROYO – Munich – EL MUNDO – May 25. 2017

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