• Apr 29th 2011 at 8:57AM
  • 22
Last week, BMW North America chairman and chief executive officer, Jim O'Donnell, told the Detroit News that – among other anti-electric vehicle comments:
[EVs] won't work for most people. For at least 90 percent and maybe more of the population, [an EV] won't work [at the current battery range].
Ouch. That sounds like it will require an apology letter. And so it did. O'Donnell said that his words were not carefully chosen and that, "I want to stress I am 100% behind our company's plans to design, develop, lease and sell electric vehicles. We are confident we are on the right path with the range and flexibility of the all-new BMW ActiveE and the forthcoming BMW i3."

Sounds like someone reminded him that you shouldn't be criticizing things your own company is working on. You can read all of O'Donnell's letter after the jump (click on "Show Press Release").

[Source: BMW via Plugin Cars]
Show full PR text
BMW's Support for Electric Vehicles

On April 18th, I had a conversation reported in the Detroit News that has caused a great deal of concern over the past week. I realize I could have been clearer in my comments and I sincerely apologize if I have offended the strong network of electric vehicle advocates whose support has been deeply meaningful to us at BMW.

First I want to stress I am 100% behind our company's plans to design, develop, lease and sell electric vehicles. We are confident we are on the right path with the range and flexibility of the all-new BMW ActiveE and the forthcoming BMW i3.

We also understand that we are a country of diverse living and driving conditions and that electric vehicles may not be the natural choice for all drivers, many of whom will want to choose other advanced technology vehicles. That's why BMW Group is investing in the broadest possible range of future innovation – gas and diesel engines that significantly improve performance, cleanliness and efficiency; hybrids; BEVs, and even hydrogen. We strongly believe all these technologies have a role to play in a sustainable future.

In this context, it is still too early for governments to pick winners and losers, which is why incentives should be aimed at a range of innovative actions that can meet diverse needs, rather than only one or two technologies. This is what I was trying to convey with my comments – consumers are smart enough to decide the best vehicle for their particular needs, so if incentives are applied, we should be mindful of market dynamics.

I am sorry for the confusion and concern I have caused. While I clearly should have chosen my words more carefully, rest assured, BMW is fully behind electric vehicles and all of the ongoing innovation in this area. We live in a diverse world and our company is working very hard on meeting the needs of our wide range of customers all over the world.

Sincerely,

Jim


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  • 22 Comments
      uncle_sam
      • 8 Months Ago
      He Says BMW is developing an EV but it will SUCK. Don't buy it. Its the Batteries you know. Better get normal car. Just to be safe... IN Germany we pay at the moment. 9.14 per Gallon. YES! And Ultimate and Vpower are at 9,5 Dollars per gallon. such a douchebag... A nicely made BMW EV would be sufficient for me. Give it Chademo not the crappy german plug and its perfect.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 8 Months Ago
      I wonder what the timeline is for all the other companies to apologize? particularly audi/porsche
      Noz
      • 8 Months Ago
      Simply put, I think comments like these from top brass people are made on purpose. They know EXACTLY what is coming out of their mouths and they don't go around making statements in a vacuum. Before anything comes out of their mouths, they've talked it over with others, sat down and gone over what is going to be said. These types of comments are extremely strategic and political in nature. All they want to do is plant a small seed in the minds of people...and in a fear based society like this one, it's a piece of cake to brainwash the masses.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Agreed. That was an amazingly dumb thing to say and apparently, the board agrees with us or he would not have bothered to come back and apologize. There are a lot of multi-car families out there. An electric car could do most of the driving leaving the other car for longer hauls. We are a multi-car family (four to be exact) and I'm planning to get a Leaf or MiEV to replace one of them. Open to suggestions ... Google "Biodiversivist Leaf or MiEV?"
      • 8 Months Ago
      Bow down before the mighty mau-mau of the ABG commenters, auto executives! Feel the wallop of our awesome snarky power! Tremble before us in fear, oh lowly lords of the ICE!
      Nick From Montreal
      • 8 Months Ago
      Too late. We already know that BMW only wants to rent EVs and will *never* sell a useful EV sedan. We want an electric 3-serie sedan, not another toy "city car".
      • 8 Months Ago
      What a Moron! We think that BMW can do better and find someone who really believes in electric cars! They have spent millions on BMW i "Born Electric" branding and ads and this guy has opened his big mouth and killed all the buzzz...did they forget to tell him that 80s are gone forever? We have very interesting findings from Nielsen Energy survey - now most U.S. consumers are ready to buy Electric Cars! We guess that rising gas prices have made all the difference in this change of the sentiment. Cruising Electric Cars on our streets do help as well, Nissan Leafs and GM Volts are getting on the roads and making the best EV marketing possible. Both Electric Cars have scored highest safety ratings in the recent crash tests and it will drive consumer attention as well. http://sufiy.blogspot.com/2011/04/lithium-drive-most-us-consumers-want-to.html
      EVSUPERHERO
      • 8 Months Ago
      No excuse, just more FUD about EV's. Pull your head out Mr Odonnell
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 8 Months Ago
      this reminds me of a joke from the soviet era. a guy broke into the kremlin and shouted the president is an idiot. he got 5 years for breaking in and 20 years for revealing state secrets : ) not that he is right in this case but he revealed his true ignorance and that's not allowed. they want to secretly hate EVs but once in a while they forget themselves. like Johann de Nysschen (US head of Audi) when he said electric cars are for idiots : ) we should never forget how clueless and obtuse they are just because they show off concept cars. they lost the war in 2006 but they have not conceded yet. far from it
      Nick
      • 8 Months Ago
      Sometimes I wonder how guys like this get the top job. I mean, how dumb do you have to be to publicly bad mouth a technology that your employer is trying to implement?
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Nick
        remarkable isn't it. as one grows one's mind and awareness of the world, one is shocked by the incompetence of the people in charge. Einstein bitterly remarked that there are only two things infinite. human stupidity and the universe and he wasn't sure about the universe. we are at the verge of an oil shortage disaster yet noone on the news speak of peak oil.. Ben Bernanke (fed chair) just gave a speech about the dynamics of the economy including reasons for the high oil prices and not once was peak oil mentioned or alluded to... : ) we can take comfort in his multi million dollar salary.
      harlanx6
      • 8 Months Ago
      This is a typical tactic used. It's like a misdirection play in football. Downplay the effectiveness of a product you are slightly behind on while feverishly throwing huge resources into catching up to your competitors. I think the demand for the Leaf has been an eye opener to the Germans. This is potentially a lucrative market segment for which they really have no reasonably priced product to meet the demand. In the past I also have heard this type of statement from VW. It's just marketing. Your competitor has a real winner and they are kicking your ass. Do you think BMW would like to have a competitor in the showroom floor for the Leaf? You bet your ass they would, as would all other auto makers. The fuel bubble is the best thing that could have happened to Nissan and the Chevy Volt.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 8 Months Ago
        @harlanx6
        You hit the nail on the head, harlanx. Then pulled the nail out and hit it again. A premium EV car is something BMW should be selling already, as well as many other luxury marques! Their customers can afford it, and a high performance electric car with no compromises ( think Tesla, but actually comfortable to sit in ) is something they could be moving off the factory lines today. Nice diversion..
      mylexicon
      • 8 Months Ago
      If someone told me EVs would have over 1 million units in sales, I'd be ecstatic. I know O'Donnell was embroiled in some kind of battle with the Washington establishment, but electric vehicles are good for 90% of America actually means that EV sales could be over 1 million units in the near future. What he said sounded really bad, but it seems to me that he was lashing out against government administrators who were operating as if EVs were going to be 50% of the market in the near future.
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