Earlier this year, BMW let fly that it had completed development on a flexible vehicle architecture that would enable electrification of every model series in its stable. By 2025, BMW Group expects electrified vehicles to account for between 15 to 25 percent of its sales, but it wanted to be ready in case 100 percent was a possibility.
We know that plug-in versions of just about every model are forthcoming — the big news being the fully electric X3 for 2020. But we didn’t have a solid timeline for widespread implementation of the new platform, capable of accepting electric, plug-in hybrid and internal combustion powertrains. Now we do. According to management board member Klaus Fröhlich, it’s also going to begin in 2020.
Speaking at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Fröhlich said uncertainty in the market has essentially forced BMW’s hand. Emissions regulations in Europe and China are getting serious and the chance of government intervention has made the brand weary of not having a plan B, C, or even D. It doesn’t mean consumers will have immediate access to BEV versions of the 5 series, but it does mean BMW will have the option to build one on short notice.
Speaking with Jalopnik, BMW i brand head Robert Irlinger also expressed a need for adaptability as the industry sits at this new crossroad. He believes the flexible vehicle architecture is the obvious solution.
However, this raises questions as to what purpose a massive cavity for the battery compartment would serve on a vehicle that doesn’t need one. Presumably, internal combustion and mild-hybrid units would have no use for them. Similarly, purely electric cars don’t need to make room for a traditional fuel tank.
Irlinger assured Jalopnik that, like other company’s scalable or modular platforms, hard points will remain constant, though it can be stretched to accommodate any number of floorpans or powertrains. While that doesn’t allow for purpose-built versions of either plug-in or combustion-focused vehicles from the ground up, it also might not matter. The whole point is to keep things liquid at BMW and be able to roll with the punches.
Between BMW, its i sub-brand, and Mini, the automotive group plans to offer 25 electrified vehicles — 12 of which will be fully electric — by 2025. Presently, it has 9 EV models on the market, ranging from the BMW i3 to the MINI Cooper S E Countryman. The company has said it is committed to selling 100,000 electrified vehicles for 2017 and will have a total of 200,000 electrified vehicles on the roads by the end of the year.
[Image: BMW Group]