BMW boss Oliver Zipse is not an opportunist. In the Spiegel interview, he shows his backbone and leaves the two Spiegel editors with their biased questions in the void. Although BMW cannot escape the imposed pressure on e-mobility either, Zipse makes it clear that the politically desired change to e-mobility cannot be forced.
Oliver Zipse admits that in addition to a fully electric iX, he also drives a 7 Series with a combustion engine. When asked whether he would recommend his customers switch to e-mobility in view of rising gasoline prices, he points out that electricity prices are also rising. It would be a mistake to commit to a single type of drive prematurely. The entire CO applies2- Consider a car's footprint along the entire supply chain, from production to disposal. BMW wanted the CO2- Reduce footprint by 2030 percent by 40 compared to 2019. By 2030, BMW wants to generate 50 percent of sales worldwide with all-electric cars. The success of e-mobility also depends on the expansion of the charging infrastructure, which currently has to grow five times faster.
E-mobility remains ineffective without 100 percent green electricity
What he thinks of a combustion ban, as the questioning editors expect from the future government, as if it had already been decided. “Nothing in this generality”, he disappoints the questioner. "The hope that everyone will then only drive electrically will not come true," is how Zipse describes the reality. “What do electric cars that are powered by coal power bring us?” There is still a lack of renewable energy. The Spiegel editors remain persistent inquisitorial: The US institute ICCT and the ADAC have proven that e-cars are more environmentally friendly than combustion engines, even with the current energy mix. How biased the questioners are in favor of e-automobility becomes clear that they are not asking a question at this point, but rather suggesting: “A complete switch would already benefit the climate today,” claim the Spiegel editors in their non-journalistic “question” already carries the desired answer. Zipse sticks to his conviction: e-cars have a higher CO in battery production2-Emissions that will only be compensated if the operation is run from 100 percent green electricity. “However, 100 percent green electricity for all vehicles will hardly be available in eight and a half years. E-mobility is growing rapidly even without a (combustion) ban. Our Mini and Rolls-Royce brands will be 100 percent electric in ten years' time. But that doesn't work in all segments worldwide until 2030 and also not until 2035. "
"We are also developing the combustion engine further!"
In the Spiegel interview, the BMW boss repeatedly replies factually based on the fact that he is realistic and far from ideology, and by no means in the interests of the questioners, who indicate that they would prefer to formulate the answers themselves. Throughout the interview, you can feel, not only between the lines, the subtle attempt, far removed from journalistic rules, to want to drive Zipse into an argumentative corner. “So you want to continue investing in combustion technology and exhaust gas cleaning?” The journalists try to provoke Zipse. He answers factually: “The focus is on the electric drive, but yes: We are also developing the combustion engine further. The auto industry in Europe is leading the way. A ban would give up this position. Why should a country of engineers do that instead of the potential for CO2-Take advantage of reduction. "And if Germany as a business location can benefit from the export of such technologies, so much the better!", Zipse returns the question.
E-mobility is booming only thanks to purchase premiums
The Spiegel editors also seem to dislike the fact that BMW continues to rely on fuel cells and hydrogen. Zipse lists the many advantages of hydrogen and comes to the conclusion: "The energy transition will only succeed with electricity and hydrogen together." the USA, but above all in Germany. ”The Spiegel editors stick to their rejection. Finally, they try to refer to the all-round genius Elon Musk, who does not believe in hydrogen and relies entirely on electricity. Zipse is not confused. Every company has to make its own decision. A pure electrical manufacturer (like Tesla) does not cover all segments worldwide. And then Zipse explains factually: “The fact is: In Germany, e-mobility has so far been booming thanks to the purchase premiums that the state and manufacturers jointly finance. However, the sale of e-cars has to be self-sufficient at some point. Subsidies distort the market. ”These funds should gradually be diverted from the product to the infrastructure. The car manufacturers could not build them up on their own.
"Why not? The filling station network wasn't built by the state either? ”The editors want to know. Zipse points out that the petrol station network was built up primarily by oil companies and not by car manufacturers. And another unsuitable attempt to unsettle Zipse. “If someone wants to sell their product, doesn’t they have to make sure that the customer can use it?” This question is also irrelevant, because Zipse answers quick-witted: “Should a lamp manufacturer also generate and supply electricity in the future?” The fact that Tesla has set up more than 29.000 charging stations and still reported record profits does not change Zapse's conviction. "As far as I know, the record profits do not come from power generation and charging infrastructure."
"There is absolutely no alternative to e-fuels"
BMW is also participating in the Ionity consortium in setting up the charging infrastructure, especially on motorways. Conversely, Zipse thinks it makes sense for the fuel industry to also include CO at its filling stations2- offers free electricity, hydrogen and e-fuels. The two Spiegel editors - fully geared towards solitary e-ideology - ask in horror: “Synthetic fuels should also still be part of the drive mix? Even in your own lobby association, the VDA, there are powerful representatives who consider this to be a mistake, ”they try to irritate Zipse with the subtle reference to VW boss Herbert Diess. Zipse counters coolly: “For today's vehicle fleet, there is absolutely no alternative to e-fuels. We are talking about 200 million vehicles in the EU. If they don't help to reduce CO2, then the climate protection goals in Germany and the EU will not be achievable - no matter how many new e-models we bring. You can't force people to buy a new car. "
They cannot say that the Spiegel questioners secretly consider such a compulsion to be sensible, but you can feel it in every question. Will the mobility transition raise a social question "because only an elite can afford an electric car with its own charging station in the house"? pleas e ask your question. Zipses answer: “It mustn't come to that. We must not jeopardize general access to mobility - that is also a social imperative. "
BMW does not want to be a mass manufacturer
The BMW boss also comments on other issues: Car-free city centers: Cars out, underground trains are too general. Small cars instead of high-priced sedans and SUVs? BMW makes the largest volume in the lower and middle market segment. BMW has electrified the Mini, and will come next year with the fully electric X1 and the electric 7 Series. The Spiegel inquisitors try to refer to the best-selling e-car in China, the Hongguang Mini, a small car and regret that there is not a single German brand among the 20 best-selling models in China. “Are you losing touch with your most important sales market?” Zipse: “You will still find hardly any Chinese brands in Europe for this. BMW now has a 3,4 percent global market share; we have never been a mass producer and we do not want to become one. We are not concentrating on maximum volume, but on higher-priced vehicles in the respective segments. Last year we launched the fully electric iX3 in China, which is selling very well there. "
Spiegel journalists want to know whether the classic industrial jobs will be lost and the classic factory workers will be the losers of the turnaround. “Not at BMW. We converted our factories for e-mobility at an early stage, for example in Munich we are replacing engine construction with assembly for e-cars. And that without losing a job. If jobs have been lost in the industry, it is mainly because global sales slumped from around 2020 million vehicles to 90 million in 78. In the meantime, however, we are back on a growth course - also because we can offer our models with all types of drive. The world market does not only consist of pure e-car manufacturers. "
Conclusion: BMW boss Oliver Zipse knows what's going on. Based on facts, he does not allow himself to be dissuaded from his convictions by the Eco-Inquisition. The hope of the two Spiegel editors to nail BMW communicatively to pure e-mobility has failed completely.