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Honda once told Americans to "respect the van" in its effort to sell its Odyssey minivans. Now, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer is telling his fellow Germans to "embrace the plug."

Reithofer cited "German angst" to explain a potential sales roadblock for the German automaker's new "i" sub-brand, which officially debuts later this year with the i3 battery-electric vehicle, Bloomberg News reports. Reithofer says Bimmer has taken a leap of faith of sorts by investing in plug-in drivetrain technology, and now needs to encourage the German public to do the same. BMW will also start selling its i8 plug-in hybrid next year.

Whether Germans will follow suit remains in question. Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at Germany's University of Applied Sciences, tells Bloomberg that plug-ins may account for as much as three percent of Germany's new-vehicle market by the end of the decade, and says Germans remain in a "phase of disenchantment" when it comes to plug-in technology.

Reithofer has previously made a different type of appeal, recently calling European emissions standards for 2020 "impossible to meet" and lobbying for funding from the German government to help with the necessary technological improvements.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 37 Comments
      paulwesterberg
      • 1 Year Ago
      German auto execs hate electric vehicles until they have one to sell... Too bad they spent so much of the last 10 years telling people that electric vehicles are rubbish.
        throwback
        • 1 Year Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Let's be honest, up until a few years ago they were. Today, some EVs are viable commuter cars for some folks. When cars like the Carolla, Golf and Civic sell by the hundreds of thousands, average car buyers want cars that require little alteration from their normal driving style.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      Uh . . . OK . . . not sure what any of that had to do with what I said.
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      @Spec: I was addressing the lack of EV incentives you mention, and possible reasons for it.
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      If solar panels were free, they would still be a daft idea as far north as Germany, as they impose large costs on the grid. But whatever, my purpose in my comment is not to renew hostilities on that front, but to simply say that the lack of subsidies for EV's in Germany are not surprising. In France with electricity retailing at around $0.12kwh and a surplus overnight, it is unsurprising that incentives to go electric and reduce the bill for 100% imported oil are substantial, as is Germany's relative lack of enthusiasm.
      PeterScott
      • 1 Year Ago
      Preaching won't help. Many people are simply very resistant to change and need to be shown that it works. All you can do is sell to the Early Adopters and when their neighbors see that it really works, cost little to run, has negligible maintenance they will start to come around.
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @PeterScott
        I don't get where the negligible maintenance comes from. I open the hood of my LEAF, there's still an A/C system. There's still a radiator and coolant system. There's still power steering (electric, but many ICEs have electric steering too). The suspension will still take in the shorts over the years. Heck, it even has a lead-acid battery. When your car breaks, how often is it actually the engine or transmission nowadays? Not that often. I've already had my Cadillac for 3 years and no repairs. Less than $250 in oil changes in the 3 years too. I will have my LEAF for 3 years, it will be near impossible for it to cost less to maintain than my Cadillac over the same period. And even if it somehow costs $250 less (the most it could be), that just doesn't add up to much. I spent 6x that putting a charger in my garage for the EV.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          'The Toyota Prius in Taxi service is already running about half the maintenance cost of regular ICE powered cars. A pure EV would reduce it even more.' You suggest an EV would have half the maintenance costs. But the point is moot if the car can't do the duty.
          krona2k
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          I think it's more to do with ongoing costs such as oil, oil filter, spark plugs, HT leads etc. It's certainly not the same as it used to be though since ICE have been more reliable. I think there are a number of expensive sensors on a modern ICE they we don't have to worry about but there might be other things to offset that. The main problem is the RRP of Leaf servicing, I still need to try to negotiate a 3 year for £300(or less) servicing deal. No way I'm paying RRP it's absurd.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          Definitely much less maintenance. No oil changes, no oil filter change, no air filter change, no belt changes, no spark plugs, no distributor, no plug wires, no water pump, no alternator, etc. The first schedule maintenance for my EV is at 40,000 miles. Sure, some things will be the same . . . A/C, power steering, suspension, tires, and other things that are the same. But those generally don't require any 'maintenance', just repairs if they break. Maybe a recharge for the AC system.
          PeterScott
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          I agree that a Leaf Battery isn't up to taxi duty. What has that got to do with maintenance costs?
          PeterScott
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          The Toyota Prius in Taxi service is already running about half the maintenance cost of regular ICE powered cars. A pure EV would reduce it even more. Here are some things I replaced on an ICE car that would not need replacing on an EV: Timing belt, Serpentine accessory belt Engine Oil Oil Filter Spark Plugs Spark Plug Wires Exhaust Pipes Muffler Gas Tank and filler pipe Brakes should also last longer because of Regen.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          Oh PeterScott, after my experience yesterday, I am certain Nissan's EV taxi program is a complete scam. Maybe I'll get into it more later, but I'm quite certain that you cannot travel more than 300 miles in a day in a Nissan LEAF (2013) no matter what you do. I'm not a taxi driver, so I don't really know how many trips they do in a day, but you could not drive a LEAF all day like you could an ICE car.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @PeterScott
        "has negligible maintenance" But this is a big worry for car folks. Dealers make a lot of money on maintenance and repairs. Car makers make a lot of money selling official spare parts. I wonder if this is one the reasons car-makers have been so reluctant to go electric despite the plain-as-day fact that the oil companies are NOT their friends. (Those oil companies raked in billions in profit while they watched the car companies go bankrupt.)
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spec
          paulwesterberg: Because if the car companies did the repairs themselves they would charge you less?
          spannermonkeyuk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spec
          @Rotation Because car companies have a vested interest in giving the impression that their products are reliable and low maintenance, whereas the independent dealers make a bigger proportion of their income from service & parts. For the record, I think that having independent dealers is fine, and having OEM-owned dealers is fine. If they compete and the OEM acts unfairly, they'll lose the advantages of having dealers. No extra laws required.
          paulwesterberg
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spec
          Another good reason not to have independent dealers.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      Germany needs to get a V2G standard set up so they can use EVs to help regulate their heavily renewable grid.
      CoolWaters
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good Germans will do what they're told to do. ( Just a joke. )
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Meanwhile, Opel continues to sell the Ampera, despite it's relatively high price and lack of marketing by GM. Depite the ICE engine being sourced in Austria, the Opel suffers from not being considered truly German. Traditionally in German Opel has been an economy brand, introducing the Ampera as an Opel, but at a high price hasn't helped to market the vehicle. Nor has restricted supply. With a proper marketing campaign, and assistance from the German government, a UK or German designed vehicle using the Voltec drivetrain, would become a huge sales success in Europe.
      spacycake
      • 1 Year Ago
      Rotation: With electricity prices around 30 Cent, many People use as much electricity from solar (cost: 12 cents, without subsidies) as they can. It's cheaper even for businesses to produce PV power than bux every kWh from the Grid.
      CoolWaters
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wouldn't get too excited about the coal plant build, as Solar Prices are Dropping so fast, this "investment" is going to look like a stupid idea in 3 years, if not sooner.
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      Germany likes to pretend that its power comes from renewables, and in fact are building coal and gas plants like crazy, as surprisingly it ain't very sunny in Berlin in the winter, and they also have truly lousy wind resources. Sure, at enormous expense they get some power out of the solar arrays, slap bang when it is least useful, but in practice everyone avoids electricity wherever possible, so that there is virtually no electricity used for heating, for instance, and gas is burned instead. Similarly German companies can avoid the expensive mess which is their electricity supply by using fuel cells, which can use reformed gas or coal, as well as mopping up some of the oversupply of electricity produced by their renewables when it is not wanted, for instance during the day in the summer and during gales. What the economics are of only utilising the electrolisers part of the time are is another question, but since they seem determined to spend a great deal of money anyway, I suppose it is no more daft than the rest of their program. To be clear my advocacy of nuclear power means that battery cars are by far the best fit, but I don't try for overarching grand plans, but take whatever discrete goodies different technologies turn up, hence my stance that fuel cells should not be ruled out. That does not make me blind to some of the forces driving Germany in that direction however, and staggeringly high electricity prices largely due to their drive for renewables means that one of the forces behind fuel cells is the wish to avoid the ludicrous German electricity 'market'.
      raktmn
      • 1 Year Ago
      BMW can't play both ends of the rope, and bash EV's and EV mandates in one breath, and then turn around and blame customers for listening to what BMW has been saying about EV's. Just build great EV cars, and stop complaining about building them every inch of the way, and great EV's will sell themselves. Tesla has proven that.
        throwback
        • 1 Year Ago
        @raktmn
        BMW is not bashing EVs, they are bashing the mandates for EVs. Two totally different things.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @throwback
          They bashed the subsidy on EVs. Of course, they're still going to make a car which depends on the subsidy to sell, but they're against it!
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