Many automakers now see electric vehicles as the long-range future of the passenger vehicle.
What may actually say more though, in the language of corporate nuance, is that few companies have gone so far as to solidly declare that the end is nigh for internal combustion engines.
Among the examples that have been so bold: Volvo won’t develop a new generation of engines after its present one; and Volkswagen will develop its last generation of internal-combustion tech in 2026. Both brands might of course keep building the engines for a decade or more after freezing development.
Don’t count BMW in that group. BMW plans to keep investing in the engineering and development of internal combustion engines for a long time—with diesel engines expected to be part of the automaker’s global product line for at least 20 years and gasoline engines for at least 30 years.
2019 BMW M2 Competition
The event this week brought a series of sweeping electric-vehicle announcements that included a stepped-up plan to electrify its lineup and bring 25 new plug-in models by 2023.
BMW Concept iX3
Fröhlich, who called the shift to electrification “overhyped” and pointed to issues with battery raw materials, noted that even with the most optimistic assumption of electric vehicle adoption, at least 80 percent of its vehicles would still have an internal-combustion engine in 2025.
Beyond then, even, the lack of a charging infrastructure may slow the adoption of fully electric vehicles in Russia, the Middle East, and even Western China, Froelich said.
The continued development of IC engines by BMW runs counter to what many inside the industry have predicted. In 2017, for instance, Wolfgang Schaefer, the CFO of the supplier Continental, predicted that investment and engineering for engines would taper off between 2023 and 2025.
That said, there will be casualties as engine lineups get trimmed down. Some of BMW’s specialty diesel engines won’t be replaced. BMW’s gasoline V-12 used in Rolls-Royce products might not be around much longer either. And BMW is currently putting together a case to save something Americans hold near and dear: the V-8.