BMW CEO Issues Statement On Electric Cars

JUN 6 2015 BY STAFF 24

At the 95th Annual General Meeting of BMW AG, BMW CEO Dr. Norbert Reithofer (Chairman of the Board Of Management at BMW AG), issued these statements in regards to the automaker’s electric cars:

The world is experiencing two irreversible trends: increasing urbanization with all the impact that has on people’s lives and mobility in ever-expanding cities and increasing political regulation regarding climate protection in the EU, the US, China, and Japan.

We are providing the technological solutions through Efficient Dynamics, hybridization, and electric mobility.

Last year, I showed you the BMW i8. It is an exceptional car that is delighting our customers worldwide. They are ordering more BMW i8s than we can produce. The output of the assembly line at our Leipzig plant has been doubled to meet demand and since its launch in June 2014 up to the end of April 2015, we sold around 3,500 BMW i8s. Sustainability and emotional appeal complement each other, and the i8 offers the perfect blend.

Meanwhile our BMW i3 has really shaken up the electric vehicle market. In 2014, we delivered more than 16,000 BMW i3s to customers. In its first full year on the market, the BMW i3 already ranked third among all pure electric cars. Between January and April 2015, more than 6,500 customers chose to buy a BMW i3. Most of them – and this is a very important aspect – are new customers for us. 80 percent of i3 buyers did not previously own a BMW.

All in all, we have sold over 27,000 BMW i vehicles so far. Today, BMW i is present in 32 countries. Of course we would like to see electric mobility develop more quickly. It is our experience that customers choose to buy electric cars in countries where governments offer tangible incentives to do so. Norway is a good example: Almost every fourth BMW we sold in Norway in 2014 was a BMW i3. In Germany, however, the i3’s share of overall BMW sales stood at less than one percent last year. The car manufacturers here in Germany – the country of engineering and innovation – have delivered their part of the bargain.

The ball is now in the court of policy-makers who will determine how quickly e-mobility is going to advance. After all, Germany wants to be a role model worldwide when it comes to promoting sustainable technologies. We also support e-mobility through the development of a charging infrastructure in Europe, China and the USA. BMW i is a timely expansion of the BMW brand’s line-up.

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24 Comments on "BMW CEO Issues Statement On Electric Cars"

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Nice to see some authentic leadership and meaningful investment on developing efficient technologies. Bravo, BMW.

Your turn, Fiat.

I read that the german government did not offer incentives due to lobbying of their national automakers.

These statements would imply a change of heart amoung car manufacturers – at least of one – or a direct lie from those in power.

I think BMW has been shaken more than others by Tesla. Why exactly, I’m not sure. I also think the i3 has been more successful than they expected, especially by attracting non-BMW customers, which they probably expected even less.

So I would not be surprised if their position on this has shifted just over the past two or three years.

“I think BMW has been shaken more than others by Tesla. Why exactly, I’m not sure.”

Uh . . . because they have lost a LOT of car sales to Tesla. The Model S has largely replaced the 5 series and 7 series where I live.

Why is tesla more of a theat to BMW than others? The main rival to BMW is merc who are in bed with tesla, there are senior technical mb execs on Tesla’s board, the model s gets some of its parts from mb and tesla makes the battery pack for a mb car. Audi (VW) and BMW are perusing a path that means they will compete with each other and the mb/tesla alliance. Tesla may split at some point or they may get closer what ever happens if you want to sell cars in any serious numbers past 2020 you need some zero emission options…… Which is pretty much what the CEO said.

Just_Chris asked:

“Why is tesla more of a theat to BMW than others?”

Because a new car company came in and, with its first truly mass-produced model, outsold every other car in the luxury sedan market segment in North America; the segment in which BMW has most of its models. Tesla did finally lose that #1 position after some months, but that’s still a remarkable accomplishment for such a new company.

I think BMW is showing more awareness than other auto makers that the future belongs to EVs, not gas guzzlers. So hooray for BMW!

@Just Chris said “Mercedes in bed with Tesla.”

No Mercedes pulled out of the Tesla capital and that is a very good thing so Tesla can be truly independent and free from an oilies influence that Mercedes could instillate. Perhaps they have common parts but Tesla can change suppliers and there is no subjection. The advent of the Model 3 for real on the market, the true gas car replacer, will be the definitive proof of Tesla independence from Mercedes.

It is only fairly recently that mb pulled out of Tesla, I do agree that both companies appear to be drifting apart. I have had a quick look online and it appears that the board is largely free of mb influence but it really wasn’t that long ago that they were much closer. They clearly still have some sort of relationship as they share parts (both ways).

As for tesla being totally in dependant being a good thing, I am not convinced. One of the strengths of tesla is it’s partnerships. IMO, if tesla had developed every component and a full manufacturing chain for each of them we’d still be waiting for the roadster. It is far better that they co-developed the roadster and the model s. Not to mention the rav 4 and the mb b-class. There is not a great deal of value in tesla reinventing the wheel or manufacturing it, at least not in the early days.

It seems that Elon Musk strategy is working. GO TESLA GO

Hoe exactly does Tesla contribute to urbanization and climate regulation trends that BMW talks about? It appears to me that Tesla is an effect, not a cause.

For BMW? Cause.

Tesla S showed that EVs sell in premium segments.

i8 and i3 are premiums, catering to performance and quality oriented customers. With Tesla sales it was much easier to make decision to invest for BMW.

One could argue that Tesla so far had less of an influence on cheaper models. As leaf is probably better model for them.

That’s a nice theory. The problem with it is that the “Project i” was started more than a year before the first Model S was delivered. At the time, nobody knew if it would be successful. The design of the “mega city vehicle” started even earlier.

The main reason that BMW and other manufacturers start investing seriously into EV is government regulation that will kick in in all major markets a few years from now and forces them to bring down the fleet CO2 footprint.

Braben said:

“…the “Project i” was started more than a year before the first Model S was delivered.”

It continues to amaze me that people write as if the Model S was Tesla’s first car, or as if the Volt and the Leaf were what kicked off the modern EV revolution.

Tesla started selling the Roadster in 2008. Bob Lutz, who headed the division of GM which developed the Volt, has publicly credited Tesla for inspiring GM to put the Volt into production.

I don’t know that anyone at Nissan has made a similar public statement, but there seems little doubt that the Tesla Roadster inspired the Leaf, too.

You should read what I responded to. The poster referred specifically to the Model S. The Roadster was hardly a sales success. If you want to talk about small-series EVs, BMW had the Mini-E around the same time (and other EVs going back to the 1980s).

Projects get cancelled all the time. A year before the first Model S was delivered, Tesla racked up a bunch of preorders. Perhaps more importantly, Tesla established major technical superiority over others, which is not good for BMW’s image.

EVs don’t have much impact on short term or medium term CO2 footprint. Even in places where an EV’s electricity emits half the pollution of a 35mpg car, that’s only about 13 tonnes of CO2 per 100,000 miles. At EU pricing, that’s peanuts.

The only regulations forcing pure EVs to be developed are programs like the CARB ZEV mandate.

“The only regulations forcing pure EVs to be developed are programs like the CARB ZEV mandate.”

You really have no clue what you are talking about. Hint: There is a whole world outside of the US.

Straw man. Obviously Tesla does not contribute to urbanization.

Intended straw man. But Tesla does contribute to increasing climate regulation trends.Legacy automakers have repeatedly told regulators that the technology does not exist to make zero emission cars that people want to buy that can be sold at a profit.

There is no way for non automakers to prove otherwise. Tesla smashed that contention to smithereens. At the $70k-$140 segment of market. And has said it do so again in the $35-$70k segment.

This has sent other automakers scrambling to make competitive vehicles. This allows regulators to increase demands for lower C02 output from the legacy automakers. Increasing climate regulation trends.

I seriously doubt that there is any EV out there that would profitable if you took government incentives and subsidies out of the equation.

If trillions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers had not gone to support the interests of Big Oil in the Mideast, if Big Oil had to provide its own security to protect our overseas supply lines, instead of the U.S. military being used for that, then at-the-pump prices for gasoline and diesel would have been so high for decades that EVs would probably already be outselling gas guzzlers.

I’m all for ending the use of tax dollars for incentives for EVs… if we eliminate the much, much greater government support for Big Oil at the same time!

Three Electrics said:

“[How] exactly does Tesla contribute to… climate regulation trends that BMW talks about? It appears to me that Tesla is an effect, not a cause.”

It’s a two-way street, a positive feedback effect. Government subsidies and regulations promoting ZEVs (Zero Emission Vehicles), which includes EVs, has stimulated the market for EVs, and the appearance of more and more EVs on the market has encouraged States to offer more incentives for EVs and ZEVs.

Note what happened when GM started selling (well, leasing) the EV1: California’s CARB board got all excited and issued regulations requiring all auto makers selling cars in CA had to start offering zero-emission vehicles. That was premature, and the regulations got rolled back. But the trend set off by the Tesla Roadster is ongoing, and this time it looks like CARB’s requirements for ZEVs aren’t going to be rolled back.

Of course, that’s not really “climate regulation”, in that it won’t have any measurable effect on climate. But I presume that’s what you mean.

I like how he said that the ball is in the government’s court at the end.. no it’s not – you’re an automaker and you produce the cars.

It’s BMW’s responsibility to create the electric future by producing the most awesome and most appealing electric cars they can churn out.

Take some responsibility, BMW!

Neppy San – I think BMW.i is taking more responsibility than most. These are not compliance cars. What he meant when talking about the Governments’ court, was that they need to incentivise sales like other nations already do.

As for more evidence of responsibility? Go to

Perhaps BMW is saying they want to produce ev faster but that is more greenwashing than real for the moment because they have only put ev cars on the market that don’t disturbe their standard gasoline cars. Indeed there is no ev versions available of their 3 series or 5 series, only gasoline and diesel. The i3 is a weird mobile seating only 4 that is not a competition to a 3 series seating 5 and trunk equipped.
BMW will only be credible when they put an ev version of their 3series and 5 series in their lineup and available for choice by their customers. Not hybrid versions but like the i3 pure ev with or without a Rex.
For the moment they foot drag and only test in outside their standard market car range, micro sizelike i3 or niche ultra sport like i8. An i5 is at worst not proposed at all and at best an hybrid Chevrolet ELR way vehicle, so not equipped with the i3 bev +Rex.

In the screenshot above, I stair at it waiting for someone to run up to the screen and throw a large hammer into it, a la Apple….