IN RECENT years, car companies have been scrambling to get ahead of new twists in the road ahead.
The arrival of electric and autonomous vehicles, along with a greater awareness of the damage done by vehicles to the world have come together like a perfect storm.
But it’s still a big business, which means the car companies will have to unlock more money to deliver what the world needs now.
Alexander Kotouc, Head of Product Management at BMWi is switched on to all the expectations the future demands.
While autonomous vehicles is going towards Level 3, with the car able to do some tasks unaided, it is still a big question mark as to when it will reach Level 5 and be fully autonomous.
“We should be at level 3 in three to five years,” Kotouc reckons. “As for Level 5, we will have to look into our crystal balls.”
That uncertainty notwithstanding, BMW was quick to turn on the switch for its electric vehicles (EVs), and ushered out two contrasting models — the BMW i3 and i8. Both showcased the potential in going electric, albeit with range extenders to pacify those who might be nervous about running out of charge in their battery.
Charging stations are part of the equation and key to making electric cars more acceptable. The issue of standardisation and who will bear the cost of setting up the system often slows down the process.
Ionity is a joint venture between the BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and the Volkswagen Group to build a network of charging stations across Europe that would allow for fast charging. Besides forcing the initiative, it would also encourage other countries to follow suit and open the markets to more sales of EVs.
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BMW reached a milestone in April 2018, with over 250,000 electrified BMW Group vehicles on the roads. The aim is to sell over 140,000 electrified units worldwide, this year.
Strong Electric Line Up
“By 2025, BMW will have 25 electric car models. There will be 12 fully electric models and 13 hybrid models,” Kotouc says.
“For every model BMW there will be an electric or hybrid equivalent,” he adds.
Is this what the customer wants? Or is this how BMW intends to manage the change brought on by global shifts?
It’s probably a combination of factors, reckons Kotouc.
“The customer demands a mobility solution that looks good. They also want the support that comes with that. The BMW brand value built around performance has to be translated into the EV.
“Governments want to participate and do things like car pooling to reduce emissions.”
The European Union has mandated a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in new cars, forcing manufacturers to develop more efficient and sustainable engines. The 2015 target for CO2 emissions was 130gm and by 2021 it will be 95gm.
“The target set for 2025 is 86gm,” Kotouc reveals, which means more work ahead for car manufacturers to reduce their emissions across their group of products.
New Revenue Streams For BMW
The thinking these days is about the eco-system that can be developed by new initiatives or innovative measures.
With EVs, there will be fewer moving parts compared to an internal combustion engine, and there will not be the need for the regular oil changes, which are after-sales opportunities that will be lost to the manufacturers and distributors.
“We may look at developing apps and working with partners to create shopping and delivery options,”
The connected nature of cars will present this opportunity, and probably others will be developed that would help BMW extend its options and continue evolving the perception of the brand.
“I’ve the coolest job. I’m changing the way people think of mobility and learning new things all the time,” Kotouc enthuses.