BMW Exec: “In The Long Run, Internal-Combustion Engines Will Regress To The Function of Auxiliary Power Unit”


BMW i3 REx In Japan

BMW i3 REx In Japan

According to Car & Driver, BMW’s Klaus Fröhlich, board member of research and development, made a few statements on the future of electric cars at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

Here’s what Fröhlich stated:

“We purposely began with very small numbers, but the upcoming 3-series plug-in hybrid will offer almost all of the characteristics of an electric [vehicle].”

“In the compact segment, there will be stable demand for battery-electric vehicles, but larger cars will still need an internal-combustion engine in the midterm.”

“…in the long run, internal-combustion engines will regress to the function of an auxiliary power unit.”

Fröhlich closed with this comment:

“We are now working with the third generation of electric powertrains. The fourth one is under development, and the fifth is in our strategy. You can assume that we won’t wait for other [companies], but drive technological change in an active manner.”

So, BMW is now looking to lead the drive towards electrification!

Source: Car And Driver

Categories: BMW

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41 Comments on "BMW Exec: “In The Long Run, Internal-Combustion Engines Will Regress To The Function of Auxiliary Power Unit”"

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Failure of vision.

In the long run, the internal combustion engine will become obsolete. The need for an ICEngine as an auxiliary “range extender” will last only until BEV charge times get down to about 10 minutes or less, for cars with good range, and super-fast-charge stations can be found almost anywhere.

Of course, it will take a number of years for that to happen; perhaps as much as a generation. But it’s inevitable. ICEngines are too inefficient and too polluting to continue to be used for long, once the electric car becomes a truly competitive alternative.

I guess it all depends on the interpretation of “long run”. As Warren states often, we may not have cars in a 100 years but I don’t like to think about that. Occasionally we see predictions out to 2070, but most long range predictions stop at 2050 or 35 years out. Even that is hard to see. The next gen Volt with 50 AER will have the number of ICE trips down to 3%. Not to be confused with miles driven. Those 3% will be needed in rural areas for some time. For two car households, I personally would rather see a BEV and an EREV opposed to a BEV and an ICE. I think we will have an electric interstate maybe as early as 2020. Tesla has nearly done this by themselves so 5-10 years seems reasonable. That is interstate mind you. STILL, there is a lot of need for an auxiliary unit for some time in rural areas. The question is how do we get more electric miles ASAP. I know extenders slow the adoption of EVSEs, but if the sum means more electric miles, I will take it. IMO, BMW is second only to Tesla in real… Read more »

I think the jury is still out, it really depends on how fast: 1. batteries get cheaper. 2. batteries get smaller(more energy dense) and 3. batteries charge faster without damage. A PHEV or EREV gets us most of the way there with current technology but that last few applications will be hard nuts to crack, if nothing else military and aircraft will still be ICE for a long time….

Depends on how long you are talking about. The way I see it, if you don’t have charging stations, particularly DC fast chargers, on every street corner then the gasoline engine still has a place in society. At the current rate of expansion, I have a feeling it may be 20-30 years before we are to that point.

Far fewer charging stations are need within a city than gas stations. Most miles driven in a city are covered by overnight charging. Charging stations in cities will still be needed for apartment dwellers, but even that need will fade as charging becomes more available in apartments.

Along highways there will need to be more chargers, but even then there will be far less need than gas stations. That’s because the first 200 miles of travel will be done on home electrons. For example, this weekend I’ll be driving 260 miles each way to visit relatives. If I had a 200 mile BEV, I would only need to charge up to 80 miles (20 for padding) each way. That’s far less than if I was driving an ICE and had to refuel at a gas station for the entire 520 mile trip.

From the looks of things I think we are going to need far more quick charging stations then gas stations. The reason is a quick charger a car sits there for 10 to 30 minutes. Also you can put quick chargers at far more places then a gas pump. But at the same time a lot places aren’t going to let you drive from your home and drive cross county and plug in. The future as if now looks very good for quick chargers.

Even if every single car sold by every single auto maker were EV’s starting tomorrow, it would still take 20+ years for the existing fleet of gas cars to dwindle down.

Typically major changes in energy sources take about 40 years. Horses to cars, steam trains to diesel trains, oil lighting to electric light bulbs, propeller planes to jet planes, etc. 40 years. That’s why it is so important to get EV’s moving now, and not spend another decade on research and development.

By the way, have I mentioned lately that the current US Congress recently passed their 2016 fiscal year budget resolution, where they call for an immediate end to all manufacturing and sales incentives for EV’s, and all future tax money to go just to R&D?

I know multiple coworkers with horses.

I also know multiple times that, driving classic cars. Not necessarily daily, but not driveway queens or trailer trophys, either.

I also know this guy who keeps posting off of his head, not realizing he’s embarassing himself:

The failure is not on BMW’s part, but on your lack of humility in the face of real-world circumstances. This includes not only edge cases but edge occupations and communities.

“In the compact segment, there will be stable demand for battery-electric vehicles, but larger cars will still need an internal-combustion engine in the midterm.”

Ummm isn’t the Model S considered a large vehicle?


EPA Size Class: Large Cars

Straight from

The Model S, which needs an Autobahn package and still isn’t selling all that well?

North America isn’t Japan, which isn’t Germany, which isn’t Eastern Europe or Latin America.

Auto-what package?

10.000 units of model S un 3 months, are you kidding about it?

It’s not selling well?

You need to read a bit more the news.

“In the long run” there won’t be any cars. Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. 🙂

To be fair, for a corporation with shareholders, ten years is an eternity.

The issue with General Motors Corporation was that they considered ten quarters an eternity.

Regardless of resources (i.e. a Tesla 85 with unlimited amounts of supercharging in place) today’s technology still has not come up with an ‘equal or better’ road trip solution for EV travel. Nor does there appear to be a solution anywhere on the horizon.

A 40 minute charge time for an added 150 miles of range is still a noticeable handicap compared to an ICE counterpart.

Not to mention the very significant added expense of extra kWhs and weight when an “auxiliary power unit” plus gasoline for those road trips may very well be less expensive for decades to come.

Depends what you put your priorities on. You could say the ICE car industry has not come up with an ‘equal or better’ ride quality/experience as an EV. Or an equal or better overnight refueling method. Or….

Lots of ways to skin a cat.

40 minutes actually gets you an 80% charge, which is 216 miles. Adding that to the original 270 miles of range for a Tesla 85 means that you’re driving 486 miles. Stopping once on a 486 mile trip for 40 minutes is almost a necessity, regardless of your method of propulsion. But then again, how frequently do people drive 486 miles in a day? For me it’s about twice a year. Also, for a trip that long you would need to stop for a ten minute gas break anyways, so it comes down to an additional 30 minutes for a 486 mile trip. That’s hardly a problem.

….. yeaaaahh, ….. we appear to have starkly different opinions on what a ‘real world’ road trip in a Tesla would entail.

We are concerned with real world, right?

Not the world where it’s 70 deg F, no wind, you don’t run the air conditioner, you’re driving 65 mph, the highway is flat, it’s not raining, the supercharger station shows up right as the range needle goes to zero, etc…. etc…?

I see a need for ICE long term…exploring the jungle perhaps? Kinda hard to find an outlet there. But pretty easy to strap a few 55 gallon drums of dino juice to the roof. Other than that, as long as you’re near civilization, EV will probably dominate.

Wonder what percentage of consumers would ever actually do that… and with their own car no less.


I agree, there very probably will continue to be a niche market for gas guzzlers, even after they’re considered obsolete. Going on safari would be one example. Or anywhere where the driver can’t expect to find an electric outlet when he stops for the night.

No doubt ICEVs will be banned in many places within a couple of generations (or maybe even less), due to pollution concerns. But there will continue to be certain exceptions made, and certain regions and certain countries where they’re legal or at least tolerated.

But personally, I’m not on a holy crusade to stamp every last gas guzzler from the face of the Earth. I just want them to become obsolete ASAP.

Ironically, the proliferation of EV’s will probably ultimately save gas cars from being banned from cities. Get rid of half the gas cars, and the remaining half won’t cause enough pollution to warrant an outright ban.

Oh look, Lensman is now walking back his blanket pronouncement. Lens that be a lesson about blanket pronouncements.

Ironically, your scenario comes with its own solution. In a jungle, what do you see when you look up? Bright light. In the future, solar power and batteries will enable people a long way without oil. 24hrs a day.

Plenty of room for bigger all-elec BEV in names like BMW. They just don’t want to screw margins, or deliver on DC charging.

Of course they don’t. This is a fast-moving field, and people with lots of skin in the game don’t want to be first mover to someone else’s second-mover advantage. Even Tesla had to build Roadster connectors and EVSEs, I’m guessing at a healthy loss.

“…in the long run, internal-combustion engines will regress to the function of an auxiliary power unit.”

I think this is very prophetic. And it is certainly true for me already.

Well, _I_ anticipate small natural-gas, methanol, or ethanol fuel cells as little range extenders in the longer term for those who need that last little bit. Technically, these aren’t internal combustion.

If anything, vehicles like the Volt have shown you just don’t need to change the world to pure BEVS to get the MAJORITY of the benefits of pure BEVs (with minimal compromise). If a Volt with a paltry 35 miles of range has achieved 60% of miles driven electric that’s huge. The next gen Volt with a modest bump to 50 miles of range will likely push that number to closer to 80% and I expect BMW’s i3 rex to push it to 90% with just 72 miles of range. That last 10% is a loooooooong road even in the small car class. muhc less SUVs, trucks, BIG trucks, etc. Making “good” the enemy of “the perfect” is generally counterproductive.

…and let’s not forget denser development, infill, and redevelopment. So everyone’s using less energy, whether gas, electric, pedal, etc.

According to Elon, the global fleet is ~2 billion vehicles now. There are ~7.3 billion people. Just think, that means we could now put 3.65 people per vehicle, and have every single human alive in a vehicle, and driving around simultaneously! 🙁

Most people drive used cars. It will be a very long time indeed for even a hybrid fleet, let alone plug-in hybrid. I suspect cars will go away before we get to all BEV.

Sorry if I missed an earlier post Warren, but what are you predicting to replace the passenger car, and in what time frame?

Climate scientists say we need to be producing essentially no CO2 in 55 years. That doesn’t leave much room for repairing roads, and bridges, let alone mining to build more private cars. I don’t think we will make a serious attempt to reach that goal, so make your own projections for when we have mass uncontrolled migration, and the zombie apocalypse.

“You can assume that we won’t wait for other [companies], but drive technological change in an active manner.”

Yes, which is exactly why it was BMW who had the first production luxury electric car on the market.

Oh, wait.

If you mean the first electric car made with advanced carbon composites, then yes–they did.

i3 design began in earnest in 2011.

Remember: The i3 was NOT designed as an electric car. It was designed as a range-extended electric car. If it were designed as an electric car, it wouldn’t have the option for a REx and wouldn’t have the large open space where the REx is with the electric-only version.

It’s great that BMW has built the manufacturing capacity to make large parts of its car bodies out of carbon fiber. I hope use of that tech expands and spreads throughout the auto manufacturing industry.

But shows a rather sad lack of vision that BMW didn’t follow up making a lighter EV with giving it a longer range. They could easily have been the first company other than Tesla to market the first EV with a real-world range over 100 miles. But BMW had a failure of vision, and made the i3 with a range no greater than the much heavier Leaf.

Not exactly “driv[ing] technological change in an active manner”, is it!

You mean the Model S, which needs an Autobahn package and still isn’t selling all that well?

Oh, wait, you’re only familiar with a single market. Not the global market, and not even the biggest single market.

How about:
“In the long run,ICE’s will be offered as an optional accessory, until demand no longer warrants their production.”