BMW Says All Future 5th Gen Cars Will Have Room For Battery Pack

JUL 18 2018 BY VANJA KLJAIC 26

BMW expects that by the year 2025, between 15 and 25 percent of the cars coming from the Bavarian-based car maker will have electric drivetrains

There are two major gripes that come from the old guard of car makers in regards to fully electric vehicles: one is the cost, and the other, the uncertainty of every country’s political system, holding down the fragile incentives programs that may or may not continue in the same fashion going into the future. For new kids on the block – such as Tesla – a much more straight-cut system was needed, as the company didn’t have to make the necessary switch from ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars to electric vehicles in their production facilities.  Something that can’t be said for the legacy car makers, playing catch up with the California based automaker.

In turn, this means that anyone willing to develop fully electric vehicles needs to put a huge amount of resources into their development, but can’t really be sure how likely they are going to sell various markets. The same can clearly be seen from the latest examples, coming from the markets with frequently conflicting regulatory requirements that are prone to sudden changes – like we’ve seen happen in Ontario last week.

For some automakers – like Jaguar Land Rover and the Volkswagen Group – developing a standalone EV-specific vehicle platform is the path they’ve chosen to take. While it costs more, in the end, it provides a much better solution for a battery-powered electric vehicle. For some, however, developing a far simpler approach is key to their future. And as you’ve guessed it, BMW is taking the latter path for their upcoming model range novelties.

BMW Concept iX3

BMW is developing two closely related versions of their forthcoming Fifth Generation vehicle architecture

The upcoming Fifth Generation architecture from the Bavarian car maker will arrive in two closely related versions. It is slated to underline every new vehicle coming out of their production facilities, regardless of what power source it uses. For BMW, having a modular architecture that supports an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) powertrain, an electric powertrain or a combination of both, is key for the company’s success in the future car market. The only significant split that we’ll see is between vehicles that utilize either a natively front-wheel drive (the FAAR platform) or the natively rear-wheel drive (CLAR) platform – like the current BMW 5 Series. Furthermore, this will be blurred in instances where both platforms need to support the respective all-wheel drive vehicle variants, further complicating things for the Munich based car maker.

Even BMW admits this is an all angles covered approach. Conceived as a child of uncertainty in both incentives and general adoption rates of EV vehicles across the world, it’s a safer approach than going all in with a clear-cut EV architecture.

“We assume that, by the year 2025, something between 15 and 25 percent of the cars we make will have electric drivetrains,” Oliver Zipse, BMW’s board member for production, told Car and Driver. “But it could be 40 percent, or it could be only 10 percent.”

For BMW, China will be the most fruitful market for their EVs. Chinese are quickly replacing ICE and hybrid vehicles for those full electric on a grand scale – mostly, out of necessity due to the air pollution problems. The other markets may or may not follow suit and the United States – BMW’s biggest market worldwide – is rather slow to embrace fully electric vehicles. Since nobody can be quite sure of EV adoption rates, the flexibility of this architecture gives BMW a lot more breathing room.

Production scaling and battery placement

While BMW doesn’t need to put up tents and announce production numbers every week, it still needs a very detailed oriented production plan to keep up with the demand. According to Zipse, the company always looks ahead and plans for the anticipated sales volume for every future model in a three to four week period before they go on sale. In turn, this means that splitting production facilities among the different architectures would “inevitably lead to either underutilization or overutilization, and in extremes [would] mean that we cannot fulfill market demands.”

For all vehicles that are designed under the Fifth Generation platform, there’s a blank underfloor space left for the batteries. For its future vehicles, the Bavarian car maker plans to add flat battery packs with scalable sizes. In turn, this will allow them to easily switch from high-performance battery packs for their more engaging models, all the way to taller models for SUV’s. BMW’s head of electric drivertrain development, Stefan Juraschek, confirmed that different-capacity batteries will be offered for different BMW models.

BMW states that the new electric architecture will allow them to offer up to 62 miles (100 kilometers) range for PHEVs and up to 435 miles (700 kilometers) for fully electric vehicles. For customers, a similar system to one used on petrol and diesel cars will be used to differentiate the different versions of the car. For example, the entry level could be the 30e system, while the more powerful and muscular versions could go up to 40e and 50e, depending on range, power and handling prowess.

Clearly, BMW is taking the safer approach. For a company of its size and stature, it’s completely expected. With their direct competitors like Lexus even talking about not going full-on into the EV market, this might prove to be the best transitional plan from any big legacy car maker out there concerning electric vehicles altogether.

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26 Comments on "BMW Says All Future 5th Gen Cars Will Have Room For Battery Pack"

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I think electric only platforms will offer huge benefits over compromised designs for multiple powertrains.
BMW will be at a disadvantage to VW, Tesla and Jaguar.

That is true today, but may not be true 7 years from now. If battery density increase at the same rate as the past 7 years, you can easily shove enough batteries in an ICE platform.

Even as batteries improve dedicated EV platform will still be better able to take advantage of the better batteries

While a RWD ICE platform will have disadvantages due to transmission tunnel, a FWD platform is close enough for all practical purposes. Maybe in future more high end AWD cars will be FWD with electric RWD and fully electric RWD or AWD versions. Even Jaguar or Chevy Bolt are heavily based on ICE models although they claim otherwise.

Yes, the advantages are heavily towards the AWD and RWD versions. Which happens to be a significant percent of BMW’s cars they make (excluding sub-brands like Mini).

Electronic nannies negate all FWD advantages ,have yet to see a FWD Ferrari, maybe you should school them.

Shoving in enough batteries is one thing; utilising the space freed up and the simplicity gained from dumping the combustion engine is another, though. Everything else being equal, the common-platform vehicles will be heavier, less aerodynamic, more expensive to produce in large numbers, and have less interior space than similar vehicles on a BEV-only platform.

Bingo.

You’re missing the point. The new car market is highly competitive. Compromise designs built off a “multi-platform” will never be able to compete with cars designed and built from the ground up to be PHEVs or BEVs.

The conversion designed Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV sold well when there wasn’t any full-sized PHEV to compete with it. Notice how its sales have fallen as the purpose-built Honda Clarity PHEV and other large PHEVs have appeared on the market, offering better functionality and more competitive prices.

And no conversion/compromise designed BEV has ever been able to compete with the Nissan Leaf or the Tesla models for volume of sales.

BMW’s strategy here is a strategy guaranteed to lose. BMW had better figure out a better business strategy if they want to survive the EV revolution!

I am not sure about this. The only space that is completely freed up is the exhaust system, that can be used for power electronics or more batteries. The BEV components are more flexible that a mechanical platform, so it should be possible to package them in the same space. This requires some high level engineering, but I dont see why it cannot be done. Additional space up front can be used for a frunk, like Tesla.

You can’t put the battery up front, since it would make for an even worse weight distribution that with ICE — and there isn’t much else you can put there. A huge frunk might be nice, but not as valuable as a larger passenger cabin and trunk, or improved aerodynamics and better vision due to a lower hood.

Also, a chassis constructed to take up the weight and torque of the combustion engine and transmission, is heavier and more expensive. A study I’ve seen estimated that the chassis for a BEV saves somewhat close to $1,000 in production costs.

The purpose-built Honda Clarity that you are talking about as an example has three different power trains, including a plugin hybrid which is the best seller.

There are small advantages to a pure BEV platform, but with BEV market share in single digits or mid tens, any advantage will be negated by significantly higher development cost. BMW can sell a modified X3 tens of thousands of dollars cheaper than a pure BEV model and still make money, because the design and tooling cost will be shared with ICE and plugin models.

For single digits, I would agree; but it looks like in the premium segment, where BMW sells, BEVs might pretty soon make up a significant portion of sales — at which point the cost advantages compared to a dedicated platform most likely turn negative. BMW doesn’t want to take the risk — but it will quite possibly hurt them in the medium term.

The ex-head of Cadillac opined that powertrain should be a checkbox with the base vehicle looking the same. This yielded a CT6 PHEV with compromised trunk space and a much smaller option list (no SuperCruise for example). A dedicated packaging plan for EV is necessary.

The near term EV demand will explode in one generation. Anybody not making dedicated EVs in 2025 is doomed.

435 miles for a BEV–it appears that BMW defies the laws of physics, because Daimler can’t do that.
/s

I fully expect them to use NEDC numbers until forced to use WLTP in 2 months.

BMW started using WLTP already last year. All their upcoming vehicle ranges are WLTP ranges.

I suppose BMW might make a cheat device to give it the best range even beating VW. LOL

Seems hard to have it both ways without compromises. My hunch would be that nothing short of a dedicated model would do to meet the Model 3 challenge that’s threatening its bread and butter 3 Series but sofar not even a hint in that direction. Curious.

BMW doesn’t have to put up a tent because they aren’t even building a Model 3 competitor right now.

It is funny how not building a market leading product takes away all the challenges and headaches compared to the company actually making rhat market leading product

BMW says all future cars will have room for battery packs. (And also room for unicorns.. and magic fairies.. and rainbow lights..)

“We assume that, by the year 2025, something between 15 and 25 percent of the cars we make will have electric drivetrains,” Oliver Zipse, BMW’s board member for production, told Car and Driver. “But it could be 40 percent, or it could be only 10 percent.”

(-60% of the time, it works EVERY time..)

who came up with the ‘sun glasses’ style grille ! seriously!!

A architecture is not a model, what that means is that they are able to build a bev model utilizing common parts in doors, Suspension etc. which won’t (hopefully) compromise BEV advantages. The biggest advantage is probably the tooling of their factories can accommodate different models.

GM is building the Sonic and the Bolt EV on the same line. Doesn’t seem to be helping them much.

“”BMW expects that by the year 2025, between 15 and 25 percent of the cars coming from the Bavarian-based car maker will have electric drivetrains””

2025 ? 15 to 25 percent of the cars ?? expects ??? They would sound smarter if they just said nothing.

The last BMW i had was a great car, way back then , That was my 2002 ti. My last car will be a Tesla.