When it comes to electric transformation, BMW should be one of the earliest traditional car companies to wake up. As early as 2004, this company began to test light hybrid architecture, and launched its first pure electric BMW I3 in 2013. However, it is surprising that BMW, which is extremely active in the field of electric vehicles, has recently made a public outcry, declaring that it will not develop exclusive platforms for pure electric vehicles in the future.

Although the arsenic of the king and honey of our country have been “abandoned” by BMW, the pure electric platform has been “honored as a guest” among Tesla, Volkswagen, GM and other enterprises. Why do different enterprises have such different attitudes towards pure electric platforms? What role does pure electric platform play in the future of enterprise electrification? Is BMW abandoning pure electric platform due to insufficient technical strength or cost considerations?

60s reading:

1. Recently, BMW reiterated its choice in the transformation of electrification – giving up the research and development of pure electric platform;

2. The vehicle models produced by pure electric platform have advantages in endurance mileage and more reasonable in spatial layout;

3. The cost of research and development of pure electric platform is extremely huge, and the return period of capital is long, which is also BMW’s biggest concern;

4. BMW has not been optimistic about the market demand of pure electric vehicles. This company wants to use a more inclusive integration platform to go through the “uncertain period” of the market, and make plans after the technical route is determined;

5. Even if the pure electric technology route will become the mainstream in the future, and consumers’ demand for electric vehicles will greatly increase, BMW can also develop electric vehicles in the form of holding a group with other vehicle enterprises, which is unlikely to fall behind.

Easy to use, but not good

In the view of Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of general motors, her own pure electric platform is the key to the enterprise’s overall transformation and electrification, and to maintain profitability in the future competition; in the view of Herbert diess, CEO of Volkswagen Group, because of the pure electric platform, only Tesla deserves to compete with Volkswagen Group in the future. What is the magic of pure electric platform that can make the confidence of these big figures in the automotive industry so strong?

First of all, the models produced under the pure electric platform will be more reasonable. Taking the MEB modular electric architecture of Volkswagen as an example, the platform is designed around the battery pack. The battery is embedded in the bottom of the vehicle, and the axle module and the transmission system module are far apart, so that the vehicle has a longer wheelbase and a shorter front and rear suspension, which can bring more internal space and provide consumers with a higher sitting posture. Thanks to the platform’s features, many car reviewers commented on id.3 that the car has “the size of golf, the space of Passat.”

In terms of battery, MEB modular electric architecture can use batteries of different capacities according to the configuration of different models, and can be compatible with the design of cylinder, square and soft pack cells at the same time, without affecting the system integration level. It is understood that when purchasing id.3, consumers can choose among three different endurance mileage according to their own needs.

In the above aspects, the traditional “oil to electricity” model is difficult to achieve. As the production platform is developed based on the demand of fuel vehicles, the space utilization of the “oil to electricity” model will be limited firstly, such as the low ground clearance affects the vehicle trafficability, the rise of the floor in the car affects the passenger comfort, and the “bulge” under the rear seat occupies the passenger leg space. At present, BMW’s pure electric vehicle ix3 has not been launched yet, I wonder if consumers can find familiar bumps in this car?

Secondly, the pure electric platform can make each part more standardized and cover more models, which can greatly reduce the cost of parts procurement and vehicle R & D, and this cost reduction will continue to reduce with the increase of platform model production.

“The manufacturing cost of id.3 based on MEB modular electric architecture is reduced by 40% compared with the previous e-Golf, and the cost of the whole plant dedicated to the production of electric vehicles will be reduced by about 5% – 10% compared with the production of fuel vehicles / electric vehicles mixed line,” said disze in front of the media According to a survey released by McKinsey, the pure electric platform can save an average of $2400 (about RMB 16800) per vehicle.

In many people’s view, the R & D threshold of pure electric platform is not high. In China, companies such as GAC, Geely, Great Wall Motors, and even Weilai and Weima, which have not been established for a long time, all have their own pure electric platforms. But different enterprises have different demands and different standards for pure electric platform. It is not easy to develop a real “meaningful” pure electric platform.

Taking Audi as an example, German “manager magazine” once disclosed the bitter experience of the enterprise in the research and development of pure electric platform. Previously, Audi and Porsche jointly developed the PPE platform. With the joint efforts of both parties, the platform has been basically developed successfully. However, after testing, Audi found that the production cost of the platform is much lower than that of Tesla’s electric platform, with an average production cost of 3000 euros (about RMB 22700) per vehicle. Based on the super luxury brand positioning, Porsche can connect But for Audi, which is committed to being the leader of luxury brand electrification, such a clear gap with Tesla is unacceptable. So Audi took pains to return it to research and development, which resulted in most of the waste of resources. The original goal of “the first mass production product offline in 2022” may also be delayed.

Huge cost will BMW “dissuade”?

Audi, as the internal R & D “sharp sword” of Volkswagen Group, has cooperated with Porsche this time, and also has the experience of Volkswagen Group in R & D of MEB modular electric architecture. It has not been able to develop an electric platform that can compete with Tesla. It is not easy for BMW with this goal to develop a pure electric platform. But that doesn’t mean BMW can’t develop pure electric platform, on the contrary, BMW’s technical strength in the field of electrification is second to none.

In terms of talents, the contribution of Volkswagen Group to the research and development of MEB — Christian, member of the board of directors of Volkswagen brand and head of group digital automobile and service Senger) worked in BMW Group for 15 years before joining Volkswagen; in terms of achievements, BMW developed a subversive pure electric platform – lifedrive module architecture long before MEB was born. In the field of electrification, BMW can be described as “important people, technology and technology”. However, BMW is not willing to bear the huge R & D cost of pure electric platform itself and the cost of subsequent plant reconstruction.

“Volkswagen MEB plant in Anting”

According to the public information, Volkswagen spent 7 billion euros (52.827 billion yuan) on the research and development of MEB modular electric architecture. After the success of the research and development, Volkswagen needs to build a new factory for the platform (or completely reconstruct the old factory) in order to mass produce the model, which is a considerable cost. For example, the MEB factory established by Volkswagen in Anting, China costs 17 billion yuan Its annual production capacity is 300000 vehicles.

If BMW wants to achieve a pure production capacity of 300000 electric vehicles by 2025 (accounting for 13.8% of the annual sales of BMW brand), it needs to invest nearly 70 billion yuan, which does not include the cost of vehicle research and development and production and manufacturing. According to McKinsey’s report, “the average cost of producing a pure electric platform can be saved by 2400 US dollars (about 16800 yuan),” BMW needs to sell nearly 4.2 million of the car to save the initial investment cost.

Moreover, the automobile platform is not a “one-off consumption”. After the R & D, it also needs to continuously invest money in order to improve and repair. For example, Volkswagen invested about 75 billion US dollars (452.215 billion yuan) in 2007-2011 in order to develop MQB platform. According to Morgan Stanley, Volkswagen continued to invest about 70 billion US dollars (489.825 billion yuan) in MQB platform in the later 2015-2018.

At present, Volkswagen has already produced more than 55 million models under the MQB platform, and the platform has recovered the cost in 2019. In the field of electrification, according to the current planned sales target of Volkswagen, by 2029, the models produced by MEB modular electric architecture will reach 20 million, at which time, MEB modular electric architecture will “pay back”. At the same time, Volkswagen also opened MEB modular electric architecture to the outside world, and the marginal effect of the platform is further expanding.

But the question is, can BMW, as a luxury brand, sell so many pure electric vehicles? Even if a new generation of pure electric platform is developed, can it play such a strong marginal effect of Volkswagen? In fact, some BMW executives do not have enough confidence in the sales of pure electric vehicles. Klaus, BMW R & D director Frich) once said in public that “the market demand for pure electric vehicles is almost zero, and fuel vehicles can last for at least 30 years”. In addition, unlike other enterprises in transition, BMW has never made public sales expectations for its electrification, especially for pure electric vehicles.

In addition to BMW itself, many market research institutions also see a decline in the future market size of pure electric vehicles. IHS Markit, a market research institution, has published a report that it is expected that by 2025, pure electric vehicles will only occupy 10.2% of the global automobile market share, and it will be difficult to break through 15% by 2030; LMC Automotive predicts that the market share of pure electric vehicles will be 9% in 2025 and 17% in 2030. According to the above prediction, BMW will not know when to sell the 4.2 million pure electric vehicles. BMW is not willing to do such things with huge investment and long return cycle.

Future choices

BMW gave up the development of pure electric platform because the company could not fully confirm that pure electric route is the ultimate solution for the future of electrification. Although the platform of “compatible with all power assemblies” can not compare with pure electric platform in terms of long-term cost and product competitiveness, it is more stable. For a long time, BMW has been committed to a variety of technical routes to go hand in hand, watching the market changes, which is quite similar to Toyota.

Previously, in an interview with the media, Udo Henle (Udo Haenle), the engineering and technical director of BMW group, said that BMW’s existing plug-in hybrid based new energy products were enough to meet the market demand. In the field of plug-in hybrid, BMW’s products are really popular. According to the statistics released by inside EVs, in 2019, the global sales volume of plug-in vehicles is nearly 2.21 million, among which the sales volume of BMW is 146000, ranking the fifth in the sales volume of train enterprises.

According to the latest plan released by BMW, BMW will launch 25 new energy vehicles around the world by 2023, at least 12 of which are pure electric vehicles. In the field of pure electric vehicles, BMW had only one product of BMW I3 before, which was built based on the lifedrive module architecture; in 2020, pure electric SUV BMW ix3 will be launched, and this car will be based on the platform transformation of BMW X3; in 2021, the heaviest model in the field of BMW electrification, the next, will meet with consumers, and according to the current known information, this car will be based on a new, capable and The platform for fuel oil vehicles, plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles is also the most appreciated compatibility platform of BMW senior management.

‘i Hydrogen NEXT’

In the field of hydrogen fuel, BMW is also well prepared. In 2013, BMW Group began to work with Toyota Motor Company to jointly develop the driving system of hydrogen fuel cell technology; in 2016, the two companies signed a product development cooperation agreement. In the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW first demonstrated its hydrogen fuel cell concept vehicle, I hydrogen next. It is expected that in 2022, BMW will realize small-scale production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles based on BMW X5.

Even if the cost of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles remains high in the future, the pure electric technology route really becomes the mainstream, which does not mean that BMW, which gives up the development of pure electric platform, will “fall behind” in this regard. First of all, BMW can adopt the method of “holding a group for heating” and find enterprises with pure electric platforms to cooperate in production, such as Daimler.

Although BMW and Daimler have always been competitors, facing the huge R & D costs brought by the “new four modernizations”, the two companies have started cooperation in the fields of mobile travel, automatic driving, etc. Media helped BMW and Daimler figure out a deal. If the two companies expand their cooperation to research and develop and manufacture electric vehicles, this will save the two companies about 14 billion euros (105.714 billion yuan) in costs. And in the field of electrification, cooperation among enterprises is not without precedent. Ford has announced that it will use Volkswagen MEB modular electric architecture to produce electric vehicles.

In addition to Daimler, Tesla has long announced the opening of its intellectual property rights in the field of electrification, which means BMW can also enter into strategic cooperation with Tesla to produce cars with the help of Tesla’s pure electric platform; in China, BMW has already cooperated with great wall in the production of electric mini, and in the future, BMW can also expand its cooperation with great wall or find another partner in China Partner, after all, after ten years of development, some Chinese car companies are no worse than multinational car companies in the field of new energy technology.

Editor’s comments: in fact, Volkswagen’s large-scale launch of MEB electronic modular architecture is more like a gamble, compared with BMW’s “mature” approach. If pure electric lines become the mainstream in the future, consumers’ acceptance of electric vehicles is also growing, then Volkswagen will copy the success of the MQB era, and BMW, although a step behind, will not fall behind completely; if hydrogen combustion If the battery car suddenly overcomes the cost difficulty and becomes the mainstream choice, or if the consumers still can’t accept the electric vehicle, the huge investment of Volkswagen will be hard to recover, while BMW, which hasn’t invested too much, can make more flexible transformation and avoid capital waste. Generally speaking, if the public wins the bet, they will eat meat and BMW will drink soup; if the public loses the bet, they will drink the west north wind and BMW will still drink soup.

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