BMW CEO warns of premature end to internal combustion engine cars

Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Management Board of BMW AG, presents the “BMW i4” on the BMW stand before the start of the International Motor Show (IAA Mobility). Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

From General Motors to Volvo to Rivian, it seems like every automaker big and small is transitioning to electric vehicles while rapidly phasing out internal combustion engine vehicles.

That is, with the notable exception of BMW. In a closed-door meeting in Germany’s federal parliament (the Bundestag) last week, the auto giant’s CEO, Oliver Zipse, warned that it would be unwise to phase out engine technologies too soon. internal combustion engines (ICE) while there is still a huge demand for gasoline-powered cars.

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“The combustion engine is the biggest [automobile] market segment in absolute terms by far in Germany, also in Europe and worldwide. Before you just turn off something like this in eight or ten years, you need to know what you’re doing,” Zipse said at the meeting, first reported by the German newspaper. Automobilwoche. The meeting took place within the parliamentary group CSU (Christian Social Union), a Christian Democratic and conservative political party in Germany.

“If you try to ban this technology in Germany and Europe, but the global market isn’t even that far away, you will also lose this technology in the global market,” Zipse said. “That’s why we also caution against doing it too soon and not giving the transformation a chance to grow with the markets.”

“It would be detrimental to simply abandon a technology in which you have a global market position without need. I don’t think it would help the climate or anyone else,” he added.

BMW is indeed a pioneer among European automakers in the race for electrification. BMW created its EV division and introduced its first all-electric vehicle, the i3, in 2014. But its EV efforts appear to have crumbled since then, as rivals like Volkswagen and Mercedes catch up with the launch of their own series of VE.

Zipse said BMW was simply waiting for the right time. “It feels like we took a break, but we actually didn’t. We have been waiting for the moment when electromobility really reaches higher volumes,” he said. told Reuters in March of last year.

Meanwhile, BMW is clearly not giving up on ICE just yet. The company is working on a new generation of petrol and diesel engines which are much more efficient than their predecessors.

Zipse has been CEO and Chairman of BMW since 2019. He is also Chairman of Europe’s largest automotive industry group, the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers.

Unpopular EV opinion: BMW CEO warns of premature end to petrol cars

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