The diesel engine still has oodles of time left in the world, and the shift to electrification is overhyped, says the BMW Group board member for development, Klaus Frohlich. A report from Automotive News quotes Frohlich declaring that the diesel engine still has at least 20 more years, and the gasoline engine, at least 30 years. Also, he toned down the general rhetoric surrounding electric cars and their impending takeover.
"The shift to electrification is overhyped. Battery-electric vehicles cost more in terms of raw materials for batteries. This will continue and could eventually worsen as demand for these raw materials increases," Frohlich says. Needless to say, that kind of talk sounds a bit different than what we hear from Tesla and other electric car backers.
So even though BMW continues to say it's actively developing and pursuing all-electric models, doubt remains. That is clear across the industry, as everyone who produces electric cars struggles to make a profit selling those vehicles. However, Frohlich did detail a few internal combustion engines that don't appear to have a way forward.
The quad-turbo six-cylinder diesel offered in Europe doesn't have a long shelf life, as Froelich declared it too expensive and complicated to build. He says the most turbos we should expect to see on a new BMW diesel engine is three. What a shame, right? We kid, three turbos are plenty. Another diesel engine on the outs is the 1.5-liter three-cylinder only offered in Europe. Frohlich says that particular oil-burner is too expensive to try and get it to comply with emissions standards.
An engine that'll hit home in America is the 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 found in the top-level 7 Series. Frohlich didn't mince words when it came to that one.
"Each year, we have to invest to update the V12 to new emissions regulations, particularly in China. And when the V-12 accounts for about 5,000 sales a year globally, this includes Rolls-Royce, the cost of these updates is several thousand euros per unit," Frohlich says.
BMW has previously committed to keeping this engine around through 2023, at the very least in the U.S. market. What happens after that is a discussion for another day. Additionally Frohlich says BMW is working on a market case to keep its V8 gasoline engine around. That'll be paired with some form of electrification in the future, though, specifically to deal with countries that have heavy taxes added for high carbon dioxide output.