This item was originally posted by Michael Coates on Clean fleet report, a publication that gives its readers the information they need to transition to the most fuel-efficient cars and trucks, including electric cars, fuel cells, plug-in hybrids, hybrids, and diesel and gasoline engines advances.
Survival for an automobile company in the 21st century seems to center on two critical interdependent paths – forging profitable alliances with other automakers and developing new zero-emission products. German automaker BMW last week made announcements affecting both areas:
- BMW CEO Oliver Zipse told Reuters he expects the alliance with Toyota to continue. So far this relationship has produced the Toyota supra sports car (with a BMW engine and suspension in a Toyota-designed body) and promises future fuel cell vehicles.
- Zipse was less definitive on the mobility joint venture with rival Daimler. The two companies merged their carsharing, tele-assistance and other mobility services into an organization called Free now, but according to media reports, Uber offered to buy the business.
- BMW has launched what it calls its flagship all-electric SUV, the iX, which will go on sale in Europe at the end of 2021 and arrive in the United States early the following year.
BMW is not one of the largest automakers in the world, so making alliances to share components or jointly develop vehicles makes financial sense. His engineering expertise and strong loyalty to owners gave the company a strong negotiating position under the Toyota sports car deal. Conversely, the high development costs for the still small market for fuel cell vehicles make the pairing a smart choice for both. Zipse said he expects the BMW-Toyota alliance to last beyond its current termination date of 2025.
Similar steps have been taken by other companies, including the GM-Honda alliance on electric and self-driving cars. In recent years, Daimler and Infiniti have jointly developed vehicles. The old and larger Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance aimed to cut costs by sharing supply chain efficiency and other costs.
The world of service
Like advanced technologies such as fuel cell electric vehicles or autonomous vehicles, the concept of selling mobility services is one that promises great potential for the future, but also presents an expensive rise time. in power before becoming a viable contributor to an automaker’s bottom line. Additionally, the elements of the mobility services business are new to an automaker, which adds to the upfront costs.
BMW and Daimler have both shut down much of their individual car-sharing businesses (Drive Now for BMW and Car2Go for Daimler) and have chosen to form a joint venture, Free Now, to create a mobility services business. Zipse told Reuters his company “is weighing options” with the joint venture, which could include new partners joining or possibly even selling it. But he added that BMW intends to continue to be active in the mobility services market. Of Germany Store manager reported that Uber Technologies Ltd. had offered a billion euros for the company.
A large EV offer
BMW retains the “i” designation for its electric models, but the first generation models, i3 and i8, are being left behind for a new series presented two years ago with the INext model. The first of the new generation of electric vehicles is the iX, a mid-size SUV similar in size to the X5 and X6 in the current lineup. The new model is an all-electric “sports vehicle” in BMW’s nomenclature.
The main attributes of the iX are an estimated range of 300 miles and 500 horsepower from two electric motors. BMW promises 0-60 acceleration in under five seconds and rapid charge capability to add more than 75 miles of range in 10 minutes.
The exterior displays a “minimalist elegance,” which translates into a no-frills exterior with slightly softer lines than the current X5. The minimalist doesn’t seem to apply to the grille, which continues to grow even though on an EV it’s purely decorative. BMW is now using it to house cameras, radars and other sensor technologies.
The interior of the iX will feature a large floating curved display, as well as a range of the latest technology. BMW calls it a Sky Lounge, although there is no indication that it will feature an aviation option or full automation so the driver can truly relax.
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Published November 21, 2020 – 09:00 UTC