BMW boss Oliver Zipse thinks the world isn't ready to go all-electric.
It's well documented that BMW is not in a hurry to get rid of its internal combustion engines. Several manufacturers are putting all their eggs in one basket, but BMW's next generation of Neue Klasse vehicles will include ICE, EV, and hydrogen models.
BMW's boss, Oliver Zipse, reiterated his stance at Innovation Day in Bavaria. According to BMW Blog, Zipse has said several times before that he has had the opportunity to take BMW in an EV-only direction but refuses to do so.
Zipse will apply the EV-only approach to Rolls-Royce and Mini, both of which will go EV early in the next decade.
"We think it's wrong to switch off the combustion engine in Europe. The industry will look different in terms of scale and structure than it does today if it goes to just one technology," said Zipse. He's of the opinion that a hard shutdown will generate distortions nobody will have control over.
Zipse also makes a good argument on behalf of hydrogen. It could just be Zipse promoting the upcoming BMW iX5 Hydrogen, which is based on the existing X5, but he makes a good case for fuel cell vehicles. According to Zipse, it will be much quicker to build the necessary hydrogen infrastructure than the infrastructure needed for BEVs.
Zipse explained that it would take roughly two days to convert an existing gas station to a hydrogen fueling station. It makes sense if you think about it. Hydrogen and traditional gas stations have a lot in common, including storage for fuel. Hydrogen needs more secure storage, but it will be easier to convert existing infrastructure rather than start from scratch, which is the case for most EV charging stations.
"That's why we firmly believe in hydrogen. It will come, and it will come at BMW; I am very, very sure of that," said Zipse.
We discovered BMW's patent for hydrogen storage earlier this year, which is extremely impressive. BMW and Toyota partnering together to build hydrogen vehicles appears to be one of the best collaborations ever. Both companies believe that there is still a future for ICE. Still, BMW is working hard on developing battery technology and recently introduced its sixth-generation lithium-ion cell. This cell will cost 50% less and enhance an EV's range by up to 30%.
The iX5 Hydrogen is the first product to stem from this relationship, but it will be built in minimal numbers. BMW likely wants proof that it will work before starting mass production on a large scale in 2025.