Oliver Zipse says the automaker will do what's best for business.
BMW Group CEO Oliver Zipse has clarified that politics will play no role regarding its electric vehicle business plan and other related matters. Speaking to Automotive News, Zipse explained that market demand would determine the German automaker's future investments, specifically in the US.
"We would not change in a substantial manner our strategy because of current politics," the CEO said. "Our cars have a life cycle of maybe seven years, sometimes even longer. That's roughly two or three administrations."
During the previous Trump administration, for example, Zipse acknowledged the pressure to build a new combustion engine plant in the US, but BMW refused.
"We discussed with the previous administration, and they would try to force us into the implementation of a combustion engine plant in the United States, which we don't have today," he said. If BMW had caved to that pressure, there would have been financial and product consequences later.
"We have our own mind, and sometimes you must follow your strategy," said Zipse.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the EV tax credits it gives to cars made in America and countries with a free-trade agreement with the USA also came up. Zipse rightly expressed frustration with its provisions. "We would ask for a level playing field as long as you are serving an American customer," he said. "Europe does not make any differentiation where the car comes from. You get an incentive or tax break if you sell a car in Europe."
Zipse pointed out that BMW already has a considerable presence in the US. Specifically, the massive Spartanburg, South Carolina factory that's home to nearly all of the automaker's hot-selling SAVs, including the three-row X7. That seven million-square-foot facility employs over 11,000 people and built over 416,000 vehicles last year alone. Roughly 40% of that output is exported.
"For the past eight years, we have been the largest exporter in value from the United States to the rest of the world - more than any American manufacturer does," Zipse said. "We are an American producer 100%."
Knowing that it's easy to understand BMW's frustrations with the IRA. A $1.7 billion investment is now happening at this factory in preparation for a new generation of EVs, specifically those built on the upcoming Neue Klasse architecture.
"If we put that big investment into the country and we would not be part of the IRA umbrella, that would be a disappointment," Zipse concluded.