During a round table, BMW Group CEO Oliver Zipse told car magazine Motor.at and others about his view on hydrogen and the plans to ban ICE cars in the EU by 2035.
In his view, “hydrogen-fueled cars don’t stand a chance against BEVs except for customers who do not have access to charging infrastructure or those who don’t want to drive a BEV with a 500 kg battery.” The EU ban on ICE cars didn’t surprise him. “If it’s a good idea, we will still have to see. It might function, but there’s no guarantee.”
“BMW is a niche manufacturer,” Zipse continues. “We only represent a 3,4% market share worldwide. But our segment needs those special cars that can benefit from hydrogen technology. There are big cars that are getting too heavy with their big battery packs, and when you make them smaller, the range suffers. Every solution has its pros and cons. In the coming years, we will also be confronted with the cons of electromobility, like higher costs, limited availability, or missing infrastructure.”
Zipse thinks that the market for hydrogen vehicles will never be as big as the pure electric market. “But one of the biggest advantages of hydrogen is that it can store energy. This quality can be used in many businesses, so creating a hydrogen infrastructure will not depend on the automotive industry; many will ask for it. Perhaps, there won’t be so many people using it for driving a vehicle. Maybe in eight to ten years, it’s simply cool to drive on hydrogen. And if so, we like to be ready to provide them with what they want.”
“In fact, we already have a long tradition using hydrogen; remember our 7-series with a V12 engine burning hydrogen. But now that there’s the electric drive, burning hydrogen has no sense anymore. Preparing an ICE engine to burn hydrogen is difficult; also, the metal gets affected, and, most importantly, efficiency is rather bad. This path won’t be followed ever again.”
“As we’ve already said many times, we will have a fully electric car architecture by 2025, when we will introduce the ‘Neue Klasse’, the New Class. This architecture will also be capable of accepting hydrogen. In the end, a hydrogen car is also an electric car. We could never build hydrogen-driven cars if we hadn’t pure electric cars. It’s this flexibility of our architecture that makes both technologies (and maybe still others) possible.”
“Of course, we weren’t surprised by the recent EU decision on banning ICE cars by 2035. We will see if it’s a good idea. In Europe, there are some 260 million cars, and every year, 10 to 15 million new cars enter the market, essentially replacing old ones. We think that renewing this entire car park needs a whole panoply of technical solutions. Openness to technologies is the best guarantee for a better climate,” Zipse concludes.
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