The era of internal combustion shall go on, at least at BMW.
There’s a new wave approaching. More specifically, a wave of electrons, as more manufacturers shift their resources toward developing electrified cars, and eventually fully emissions-free cars. However, despite the hive of EV activity, BMW thinks there’s still life left in the internal combustion engine.
Automotive News quotes BMW Group board member for development, Klaus Frohlich, who bucked the notion that electric cars will soon overtake the internal combustion engine. “The shift to electrification is overhyped,” he said. “Battery-electric vehicles cost more in terms of raw materials for batteries. This will continue and could eventually worsen as demand for these raw materials increases.” Frohlich went further to say that, in light of the potential bottlenecks facing widespread electric car adoption, BMW expects diesels to stick around for another 20 years. Beyond that, gasoline engines will remain in use for another 30 years.
The BMW board member also quoted a lack of infrastructure as the rationale behind his claim. “We see areas without a recharging infrastructure such as Russia, the Middle East and the western, internal part of China so they will rely on gasoline engines for another 10 to 15 years.” Other, more developed areas like Beijing, Shanghai, Europe and the U.S. West Coast will likely see battery-electric cars more quickly.
BMW still paring down its engine portfolio
While there’s an argument to make either for or against Frohlich’s claim, BMW is still shrinking its engine portfolio over the coming years. Right now, the firm’s three main engines in the U.S. market are a 2.0-liter inline-four, a 3.0-liter inline-six and a 4.4-liter V8, all turbocharged or twin-turbocharged. The automaker hasn’t given up on diesel in Europe just yet, but it will abandon its 1.5-liter three-cylinder unit as tougher emissions standards kick in.
Beyond that, BMW will hang onto its six-cylinder diesel engine for the time being, but its next iteration won’t be so complex. The current unit is a quad-turbocharged diesel, and Frohlich said future engines won’t have more than three turbos. Somehow, we suspect that will still be enough. The days of its massive V12 gas engine are also numbered. The 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V12 isn’t a massive seller — not terribly surprising — and Frohlich contends updating this engine each year to keep up with emissions regulations costs “several thousand euros per unit.”
In the meantime, we’re curious to see where the company’s current engines will go in the next decade. We will inevitably see more hybrid variants, but it appears BMW is keen to hang onto internal combustion, at least for now.