BMW, like many others in the auto industry, is heading away from internal combustion engines and towards electric power. It’s consolidating its engine lineups and investing in new electric propulsion tech, but this sort of switch doesn’t just happen overnight.
Shown above, the M760i xDrive, BMW’s sole-remaining V-12-powered car.
Automotive News Europe spoke with BMW’s R&D chief, Klaus Fröhlich, to discover some of the challenges that come along with the automaker’s expansion into the electric sector. He cites the cost of developing architectures specifically for electric cars, a lack of charging infrastructure in many parts of the world, and the rising cost of raw materials as the main barriers to sustainable success.
One part of the interview stuck out to us, though. Fröhlich, when asked about the future of the internal combustion engine at BMW, made it clear it wasn’t going away any time soon. But some sacrifices have to be made.
“Regulations on internal combustion engines are accelerating and getting more diverse all over the world,” Fröhlich told Automotive News Europe. “We have to update our engines every year, especially for China. Because this costs a lot of money, we have to streamline our offerings.”
Currently, BMW offers buyers a selection of six gasoline engines and nine diesel engines in the 3-Series alone in Europe.
“On the diesel side, production of the 1.5-liter, three-cylinder entry engine will end and the 400-horsepower, six-cylinder won’t be replaced because it is too expensive and too complicated to build with its four turbos,” Fröhlich continued. “However, our four- and six-cylinder diesels will remain for at least another 20 years and our gasoline units for at least 30 years.”
The four-turbo diesel Fröhlich is referring to is the one found in the Europe-only M550d xDrive. But what of the bigger V-8s and V-12 the company offers? Sorry displacement fans, but it’s not looking too good.
“The V-12 may not have a future given that we only produce a few thousand units each year and the several thousand euros of added cost it takes to make them compliant with stricter emissions rules,” Fröhlich told Automotive News Europe. “When it comes to the V-8, it’s already difficult to create a strong business case to keep it alive given that we have a six-cylinder high-powered plug-in hybrid unit that delivers 441 kilowatts (600 horsepower) of power and enough torque to destroy many transmissions.”
Last we heard, BMW’s V-12 would be sticking around until at least 2023 due to high demand in the middle east and Asia. We’d be surprised if it lasted any longer judging by this news. As for its V-8s, well, they’re still a pretty substantial part of the company’s lineup, especially in its more expensive M cars. We’re curious to see where the company ends up when 2050 comes around.
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