CEO BMW Belux: ‘Electric driving will not be cheap’
Eddy Haesendonck, the recently appointed CEO of BMW Belux, BMW importer in Belgium and Luxembourg, thinks electric driving will never be cheap. Furthermore he declares that BMW not only sells cars but will also be a mobility consultant, in particular for companies.
“Electricity is not cheap in Belgium and charging at a public charging point makes electric driving almost as costly as using diesel”, says BMW Belux CEO, Eddy Haesendonck. “In fact diesel and petrol are very cheap, it’s the excises from the government that make those fuels much more expensive.”
“When we all drive electrically tomorrow, what will the government do to compensate its loss of excises?”, he asks. “Electric driving will never be cheap, it will be ecological but not cheap, and it will only be ecological if we use green electricity.”
BMW plans to have 25 different electrified models in 2025, half of them (12) purely electric. “We are ready to produce them, but the infrastructure and the authorities are not following”, Haesendonck adds. “It kills technological progress.”
That’s why Haesendonck thinks hybrids will be important in the coming years. “However, we will have to stop talking about fake hybrids or bashing the diesel engine. Plug-in hybrids can now drive 80 km in purely electric modus and that will still increase.”
“In Rotterdam smart sensors make hybrid cars enter the city on pure electric driving, but in Belgium hybrids are still considered as a fake ecological solution, which makes their market share shrink instead of explode (from 4,9% last year to 4,7% today).”
Haesendonck doesn’t want to bury the diesel either: “Since the introduction of the Euro standards (Euro 1 in 1992 till Euro 6 in 2014) diesels have become 700 times more ecological.”
Together with Els Ampe, Alderwoman for Mobility and Public Works in Brussels, he stresses that urgent investments in mobility and infrastructure are needed. For cities like Brussels being multimodal is the solution, but the different means of transport have to fit.
“Connecting the dots is essential. You have a huge parking in the north of Brussels (parking C), for example, where commuters could leave their private cars, but at the moment there is no easy connection with public transport. That’s illogical.”
Alderwoman Ampe confirms this and thinks that expanding the subway system could be a solution: “In London they plan 40 new subway stations and 42 kilometres of additional underground tracks, in Brussels there is no sense of urgency. Brussels authorities tend to be fatalistic about the whole problem.”
According to Ampe a big part of the solution could be 6 new subway lines totalling 36,5 km of additional underground network. That would cost 3,65 billion euro, “but that’s not a huge sum. You can spread the expenses in time and an investment in subways is the most efficient public transport investment for getting your money back in the end.”
Becoming mobility shifters
In the Belgian market BMW is also a big B2B player. BMW wants all its B2B sales teams to become mobility consultants or so-called mobility shifters. BMW doesn’t want to lose its (historically grown) privileged access to fleet and mobility managers, it wants to expand its consulting qualities.
Be it bikes, e-bikes, public or private shared cars, motorcycles or classic company cars, BMW wants to propose all possibilities to its company clients. If a company wants to electrify its fleet (totally or partly) BMW will look into the electrical infrastructure, the necessity to install solar panels, etc.
“We are no producers of charging points or installers of solar panels, but we try to be the easiest link. Our teams are informed, they know the services and the suppliers. They will provide different solutions proposed by our partners, so the customer has a good choice”, concludes Haesendonck.