From looking at the future strategies of automakers around the world, you'd think that combustion engines are gradually going away, and EVs are replacing them. BMW boss Oliver Zipse pushed back against that narrative during the Innovation Day conference in Erlangen, Germany, as reported by Wirtschafts Woche. He came out against dropping ICE powerplants and promoted hydrogen as a fuel source.
Zipse says hydrogen is "the only raw material that can be sustainably produced and stored." His statement comes just a few weeks after BMW starting fuel cell production in Munich. It's building them for the limited-production iX5 Hydrogen Concept (gallery below).
Gallery: BMW iX5 Hydrogen
Zipse argues that hydrogen has advantages over EVs. "You don't need your own charging infrastructure," he said. "You can convert a filling station in two days. The way there is relatively short, unlike with electromobility, where you need connections to the medium-voltage grid and you need a charging infrastructure for every car." "
We think it's wrong to switch off the combustion engine in Europe," said Zipse in a translation of his statement from the conference. "The industry will look different in terms of scale and structure than it does today if it goes to just one technology."
While this is Zipse's opinion, legislation from around the world might kill the market for combustion engines. The EU is close to such a ban starting in 2035. Although, Germany is reportedly pushing back. California, which is a major market for BMW, is prohibiting new ICE sales in 2035.
Don't let Zipse's statements at the conference make you think BMW has no interest in EVs. The company is developing the Neue Klasse platform for its next generation of electric offerings. A new 3 Series using these underpinnings should arrive in 2025. More Neue Klasse products arrive later.
The Neue Klasse-based 3 Series reportedly has a longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs. To keep weight down, the vehicle would make extensive use of aluminum, carbon fiber, and carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). The powertrain would include a single- or dual-motor layouts for rear- or all-wheel drive, respectively. The battery allegedly provides a range over 435 miles (700 kilometers).