BMW Sales Boss Says Electric Vehicles Are For Smog-Filled Cities and Places Like California


BMW i3 electric

BMW i3 in Geneva

If you asked BMW sales and marketing boss Ian Robertson to predict future sales of electric vehicles, the answer you’d get would be something like this:

Ian Robertson at BMW i3 Launch

Ian Robertson at BMW i3 Launch

Right now electric vehicles are for smog-riddled cities plus the state of California. The internal combustion engine is here to stay.

That’s not exactly what Robertson stated in regards to electric vehicle sales, but it’s close enough.

Here’s his exact words:

“There’s still a long way to go with these and other conventional engines. Globally, the petrol/diesel split generally is still Europe diesel, rest-of-world petrol – with a few minor exceptions as local conditions change.”

“Electric vehicles will continue to make gains in big cities – you only have to look at the recent pollution problem in Paris and the smog issues in Beijing and Shanghai.  Zero emissions will perhaps become a requirement and I think that 20 per cent of combustion engines will come with some form of electrification within 10-20 years.”

“Where you’ve got active motivation, it affects and encourages early adopters and it works.”

In other words, Robertson says EVs will fill a niche in highly congested cities and in states like California where CARB is the active motivator.

Source: via The Green Car Website

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27 Comments on "BMW Sales Boss Says Electric Vehicles Are For Smog-Filled Cities and Places Like California"

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To all the execs at all the car makers who aren’t sprinting toward EVs as fast as they can, I have one question:

Given the price decrease in EV batteries over the last few years, how long will that trend (or something close to it) have to persist before EVs are a far superior option for the majority of car owners in the US, the EU, etc.?

In particular, I would love to ask the Hydrogen Heads at Toyota and Honda this question, and see how they expect their platinum plated (literally) technology to compete with the Leaf that recharged last night in my garage.

This exec should have included anywhere with proper state incentives. Atlanta GA is proof that incentives work. I wish the US incentives would be altered to make them a little less dependent on income and I think sales would double.
Really the acceptance curve is moving at a reasonable pace for manufacturers and battery suppliers to get on board. If the plug-in curve does mimic the HEV curve then expect it to see the first significant jump around 2017-2018 which just happens to be when Elon Musk plans on delivering the Model E.

Good question. I believe they sit in secret about it, but do in fact have a number. It’s market share, where they recognize the financial losses from fewer units sold will some day outweigh the shrunking margins of batteries combined with higher units sold. All battery cars could get cheaper, and it might be meaningless, to the extent falling service revenues also apply.

And for the next decade or two, he’s probably right. When he states 20% of combustion engines will have “some form of electrification”, I assume he includes everything from traditional hybrids to range-extended electrics (a pure electric has no combustion engine, of course). Given that in the US, only about 3% of new cars have electrification today, this means a huge amount of growth. I don’t know what the percentage is worldwide, but I’m guessing it’s lower.

10-20 years to get there is way too slow, both for the planet and vis-a-vis the actual rate of progress of EVs right now.

But he reflects the classical mindset of most American major auto execs.

Let’s call it in its true name: “The Titanic Mindset”. Business As Usual, at any price – until it is too late.

So… around 2020-2025 we’ll have to bail the lot of them out – at least those who haven’t adapted yet – once again?

That aside, his statement is an insult both to HQ back in Germany, and to the engineering teams that put the i3 together. Just like GM upper management and sales/marketing are insulting the developers of the Volt on a daily basis.

“his statement is an insult both to HQ back in Germany, and to the engineering teams that put the i3 together”

I completely disagree. The i3 was designed for young urbanites, living in smog-filled cities. It will also sell well in California, I’m sure. As it is designed, it will not be popular in middle America.

If anything, this is a hat-tip to those who designed the i3. He is saying he believes that it is a good fit for exactly where EVs will take off – in big cities.

The sticker says Car of the year, it should read Bike of the year.

Welp, that’s more customers for Tesla…

That is exactly why Tesla is succeeding, because they BELIEVE in EVs, I will include Nissan EVs too, the rest of this brands just build compliance cars.

Continuing to marginalize some EVs as “compliance cars” does nothing to help general proliferation of EVs, and I’m getting a bit sick and tired of hearing it. None of the engineers on the so called compliance cars thought “I’ll just phone this one in today, it’s just a compliance car”. They thought “Sweet! I’m making one of my company’s first few EVs!” They worked their butts off to do so. All EVs are pretty darned good cars, and will only get better as the engineers are allowed to refine and release new versions.

Most EVs are fairly mediocre today. That’s not a reflection on the skill or passion of the engineers. It is a reflection of the business constraints within which the engineers are compelled to work. So yes, today most EVs are “compliance cars.” They’re the minimum necessary while still protecting the bottom line and short term shareholder value.

Which dictator has ever imposed the totally bizarre thing of “Diesel for Europe”. That is pure non sense. Diesel is there to disappear because it is carcinogenic, point. It is not less so in Europe than in any other place, so it has to go.

The idiots who decided to tax diesel less than they tax gasoline. That creates an artificial preference for diesel. It is stupid. They should both be taxed equally.

It is somewhat balanced by a higher tax on cars with diesel engines.
That is why usually only people who drive a high number of miles per year choose diesel.

If it were only the tax on the fuel, EVERYBODY would be driving diesel.

“The idiots who decided to tax diesel less than they tax gasoline. That creates an artificial preference for diesel.”
I agree.

“It is stupid. They should both be taxed equally.”
I disagree.
The one that does the most damage per unit burnt should be taxed the most.

I’d say he’s the savvy auto exec protecting margins, if I weren’t convinced many of these guys are economically blind.

I think this BMW sales exec should keep his day job. He really stinks at forecasting the future.

In other words, EV’s are for 80% of where BMW sells cars in the United States. Because BMW doesn’t exactly sell a whole lot of cars in rural small towns compared with how many BMW’s are sold in large cities and California….

BMW can’t sell diesel where it actually works, because incomes fall. So, they sell it where it doesn’t, because Americans are more hung up on form following image, than function.

Ian is such a smarty pants.

@Nix +1, haha you caught him with his pants down.

I guess he was asleep at the wheel in that Tesla is taking over Norway.

Zero vision idiot IMO.

Tesla will lead….

Ya and when gas runs out then what?!

Gas will not run out in the next 10 years. Although we could be seeing serious shortages by then. More importantly, we will have seriously fried our planet by then if we don’t do something … yesterday.

I guess Mr. Robertson is content with keeping Europe addicted to Putin’s oil.

Kind of reminds me of what corporate Detroit used to say about the Japanese (small) cars back in the the 1960’s. Heads in the sand were not really good coping mechanisms then or now.