Generation Next : TGS Talks to Dr. Andreas Aumann

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Dr. Andreas Aumann, Vice President Product Management BMW i, eMobility, BMW AG, chats about the future of the BMW i brand, as well as his thoughts on China, the biggest EV market in the world.

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The automotive industry as we know it is hurtling fast into a world away from internal combustion, and towards alternative propulsion. Carmakers both new and old recognise that electrification is a necessary step to take if one is to remain relevant today and tomorrow. Even a storied brand like BMW cannot escape this reality, and BMW i is leading the charge to provide an innovative electrified future, without compromising on the brand’s values.

Dr. Andreas Aumann shares his thoughts on what we can expect BMWs to be like within the next few years, as well as his views on China, where he once served as Head of Business Development for the brand.

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Top Gear Singapore (TGS): What we can expect from BMW i and eMobility over the next couple of years?

Dr. Andreas Aumann (AA): We launched BMW i in 2011, which was followed by the introduction of the i3 and i8 in 2013. Since then, we also brought quite a few plug-in hybrid models to the market.

Right now we have the broadest electrified portfolio in the premium automotive segment, and we are currently number one in terms of market share for electrified vehicles among the premium manufacturers, well ahead of our rivals.

By the end of this year, the BMW Group will offer 12 electrified vehicles for sale, including plug-in hybrids, and full battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

As for what’s next, we believe that by 2023, 15 to 25 per cent of our global sales volume will be electrified. In order to achieve this, we will have at least 25 new electrified models and more than half of them will be fully electric.

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This year, we will launch the electric MINI, and next year, we will introduce the BMW iX3. In 2021, we will have the BMW iNEXT and the i4. That’s a fairly significant expansion of our electrified lineup that’s in the works, and they will represent our ACES (Autonomous, Connected, Electric, Services) strategy that will define the BMW brand over the coming years.

(Click HERE to find out more about the iNEXT)

TGS: With regards to BMW i, do you see a future of the brand beyond electrification? For example, hydrogen fuel cells or other forms of alternative propulsion

AA: BMW i has always been about innovation, and electrification is one of the key innovation fields in the automotive industry right now. Over time however, we expect it to become mainstream.

BMW i’s vision is to always be pioneers, to constantly bring new ideas and innovations to the BMW brand, and we will continue to do so beyond electrification.

Having said that, BMW believes in being open about technological development. While we believe that the future is electric, it is but one way of achieving targets of reducing emissions and improving air quality.

Being open about technology means that we will continue to invest, improve and optimise our combustion engines, as there is still space for them to exist for many customers.

We will continue to pursue electrification, with both plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles, and adapt them to meet our customers’ different needs and driving patterns, as well as current rates of infrastructure development.

Hydrogen is an attractive development for us, because it has high energy density, and can thus offer longer driving ranges and faster recharge times. However, the infrastructure for refuelling with hydrogen is currently very expensive, and is non-existent in many parts of the world right now. The sustainable creation of green hydrogen fuel is also a question that needs to be resolved on an industrial scale.

Nonetheless, hydrogen is a technology that we’re looking at, and we have actively pursued hydrogen development for quite some time now. We are currently working in cooperation with Toyota on fuel cell vehicles, so yes, it does have a future within the BMW brand.

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TGS: You’ve worked in China, which is now the world’s biggest automotive market and making a huge push towards electrification and alternative propulsion. What are your thoughts on this, and how does the brand plan to take on this challenge of a market?

AA: I left China at the end of 2013, and with the speed of change in the country, I might not be the most up to date on developments! (laughs) But China is definitely a fascinating market that is rapidly growing, and it is a very interesting place to do business.

You’re right that China is now a huge e-mobility market, and one that is growing incredibly quickly, thanks to regulatory and industry policies that have been pushing consumers towards that trend for quite some time now.

Electrification definitely has a bright future in China, and we are pleased that we have been quite successful with our strategy for the country so far. It definitely makes sense to bring our electrified models to that market, and when the iX3 goes on sale in 2020, it will be produced in Shenyang, as demonstration of BMW’s commitment to its electrification strategy for the Chinese market.

STORY Ben Chia
PHOTOS BMW

TopGear
Author: TopGear
Top Gear is a British television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars, and is the most widely watched factual television programme in the world.