Published on November 29th, 2017 | by James Ayre0
BMW In Talks With Manufacturers Around The World About Potential Small EV Partnerships
November 29th, 2017 by James Ayre
BMW AG is currently in talks with a number of different auto manufacturers and parts providers spread around the world about potential small electric vehicle production partnerships, a key management figure at the company has revealed.
The aim of the talks, and any potential partnerships that may result, is to lower the cost of electrifying the company’s Mini brand.
The comments, from management board member Peter Schwarzenbauer, read: “We are talking to many OEMs (manufacturers) around the world, not only in China, (about) how to electrify smaller cars. There’s no final conclusion on it.”
These statements follow on last month’s revelation from the China-based auto manufacturer Great Wall Motor Co that it was in talks concerning a possible venture that would see Mini vehicles produced in China. As it stands, Mini vehicles are only produced in Europe (hence one of the reasons for the relatively high costs elsewhere).
Notably, though, Schwarzenbauer refused to comment on any possible deals with Great Wall Motor Co, reportedly stating that “this was speculation.”
“However, he said building smaller electric cars was challenging, not only because of the financial costs, but also the engineering problem of fitting batteries with sufficient range into a smaller vehicle package,” Reuters reports. “BMW has said it plans to launch a new, electric Mini model in 2019. Eventually, Mini could become an entirely electric brand, aimed at urban consumers, Schwarzenbauer said.”
Notably, Mini sales have been slumping as consumers shift more for either larger vehicles or, if they want a green or efficient car, plug-in vehicles. “Mini sales in the United States have fallen 10% through the first 10 months of this year, as demand for many smaller cars has waned in favor of sport-utility vehicles and trucks.”
Rather than releasing new SUV models in the Mini lineup, though, BMW will be focusing on electrification. Schwarzenbauer noted that “the way for (the) Mini in the US is … building the Mini brand in the direction of the electric urban mobility company.”
We have long argued that electric sub-brands offer the most potential for major automakers to seriously pursue electric vehicle growth. All the better if you can take a popular existing brand and turn it electric.
In other news, Schwarzenbauer also commented that BMW would be releasing a self-driving car (iNEXT) in 2021 that would retail at a price below $100,000 or so. The model may not be capable of Level 5 autonomous travel by 2021, though, owing to possible regulatory holdups.