BMW was once known for its diminutive fuel-sipping neue-klasse cars in early 1970s America. In the fifty years since, the company’s offerings have grown in every dimension. With the big-power M division getting headlines, and sales success of ever-larger luxury SUVs, BMW’s corporate average fuel economy has seen better days. As it faces a challenge to meet strict 2021 European carbon emissions standards, the Motoren Werke still has much to do.
For 2021 the European Union has set a corporate average emissions standard at 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer. In 2018 BMW’s average was 128 g/km, and in 2019 it was lowered only slightly. That sounds reasonable enough, but it does help to remember that BMW’s number was only 124 g/km in 2016.
Chief Financial Officer Nicolas Peter told Reuters on Thursday that he expects BMW to not only reduce global group emissions by 20 percent in 2020, but that it would increase its global sales at the same time.
According to Peter, BMW’s fleet average emissions will be just over 100 grams per kilometer, which will allow a further reduction for 2021, meeting and exceeding the 2021 standards. This all hinges on a plan that Peter says includes higher sales of electrified vehicles and more efficient combustion engines.
If the company doesn’t get its number down, and fast, it could face nearly 2.7 billion dollars in fines.
Let’s take a look at this plan.
First, the electrified vehicles. BMW’s i4 electric vehicle is on the horizon, it hasn’t even been shown off yet, so it’s still at least a few months off. The i3, the company’s only BEV at the moment, is getting a bit long in the tooth. The 2-series Active Tourer hybrid has been around since 2015, and the 5-series hybrid has been around since 2017, neither are massive volume movers. The 7-series hybrid was just swapped from an inline-4 turbo (which achieved 27 combined mpg) to an inline-6 turbo that can only manage 22 miles per gallon.
Perhaps more importantly than the i4, however is the release of the new 3-series PHEV across Europe. The sedan remains a big seller in mainland Europe, and BMW will be pushing the hybrid version much harder than its diesel version, for example. Additionally, the PHEV versions of the X1, X3, and X5 are likely integral to this plan.
The 330e sedan is rated at just 37 grams of CO2 per kilometer. If this thing catches on well enough, it alone could fix BMW’s emissions problems.
As for those more efficient gasoline engines, I haven’t heard a peep. I do wonder if this plan will involve limiting the availability of average-killing large displacement engines, and M division cars. Maybe prayer?