BMW has made it clear it sees no future for electric cars without a petrol or diesel back-up.
Ahead of driving two Mini prototypes next week, Ian Robertson, sales and marketing director of BMW and the only Britain on the BMW main board, told AM: “I drive both cars next week. One will use electric to supplement the car. The other uses electric to drive the car.”
Electric cars, he stressed, will have a small liquid-fuel engine of some sort to ensure that the batteries can be recharged on the move. “Why wouldn’t you? Range anxiety disappears.”
“In most cases Mini electrics are recharged at home. We thought that if drivers saw a recharge point on their travels they would use it - but they don’t. Range appears not to be a crucial issue for owners.
“The parc is now around 750 worldwide.”
Manufacture is just starting at Nedcar in the Netherlands, an outsourced assembler.
“We have to keep complexity out of Oxford (the principal assembly factory).”
The next new model will be the Paceman. BMW plan to generate a platform for the new Mini that can be shared with the 1 Series BMW.
“If we do our brand work perfectly, Mini is a car that will sell itself.”
The next target is zero emissions.
“That means carbon fibre in order to get lightness. We are at the dawn of carbon fibre and this is a brand new venture,” Robertson said.
There is also to be a plug-in sports car – the 8 Series. His vision of customer support is also working well.
Ninety thousand people worldwide have signed up for car-sharing which is well ahead of plan.
In San Francisco there are 30 car parks where the bay usage is actively monitored and BMW drivers can be guided remotely to empty bays rather than having to cruise round the neighbouring car parks and bays looking for parking.
“Now we know where our customers are parked we can offer servicing, valeting and refuelling while they work.”
Venture capital firms have been working with BMW to help find people who would take on a franchise to maintain the cars in this way, but BMW wants more of them to feel confident in launching the scheme.
The Mini Countryman is a very effective proposition for motorists who have not previously been involved with the Mini brand.
There is to be a new engine strategy: all cars will use a 500cc cylinder such that all two litre engines will be four cylinders and so on. New Mini and new 1 Series BMW will in future use the same platform and Hams Hall near Birmingham in the UK will be an assembler before the end of this year.