BMW engineer says European customers don’t want all-electric vehicles

BMW is continuing to commit to plug-in hybrid models because European customers don’t want all-electric vehicles, according to a senior engineer.

Car manufacturers have been forging ahead with development of all-electric vehicles as regulators push them to reduce their fleet emissions.

However, Forbes reports that Klaus Frölich, director of development at BMW, told journalists that Europeans don’t want full EVs because of their lifestyle and infrastructure concerns.

He said: “There are no customer requests for BEVs [battery-electric vehicles]. None. There are regulator requests for BEVs, but no customer requests.

“If we have a big offer, a big incentive, we could flood Europe and sell a million (BEV) cars but Europeans won’t buy these things.

“From what we see, BEVs are for China and California and everywhere else is better off with PHEVs [plug-in hybrid vehicles] with good EV range.”

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He said the main reason was because unlike US and Chinese customers, Europeans tend to only have one car, so it needs to fill all needs. With particular concerns about charging infrastructure and therefore range, as well as the unknown resale value, they “cannot take the risk on an EV”, so hybrid models suit them better.

“We can deliver an electrified vehicle to each person, but they will not buy them”, he added.

Frölich also said that the argument that EVs just need extra range to sell more was “bull****” because adding range adds cost for the customer. This cost can be absorbed into expensive, luxury EVs, but isn’t feasible for less expensive mainstream vehicles.

He said: “You have to pay for range, this is what people don’t seem to understand. The difference between 350km and 600km of BEV range will be 10,000 euros. You put them both out there and see how many people will buy the 600km car.”

The news comes as BMW announced an acceleration of its plan to introduce 25 electrified models to its range by 2025, saying this would now be achieved by 2023. However, that number is made up of a mix of BEVs and hybrids.

A recent investigation by the Press Association found that many manufacturers were struggling to source enough batteries for their electric vehicles in order to keep up with demand. Hyundai and Kia customers were being told they would have to wait up to 12 months for their vehicle to arrive.

Simon Moores, managing director of lithium-ion battery specialist Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, confirmed there was a bottleneck in the production of the high-quality batteries needed for electric vehicles.

He said: “Western EV makers need the highest-quality lithium-ion batteries for a multitude of reasons, including safety, range and longevity. The surge in EV demand in the past two years has meant that tier one battery producers – such as Panasonic and Tesla, LG Chem and Samsung SDI – are playing catch-up.”