BMW ICE Transition Blending New Tradition with EV Advancements

BMW ICE Transition

BMW, led by CEO Oliver Zipse, adopts a balanced approach towards phasing out internal combustion engines (ICE), advocating for technology openness and the continued relevance of ICE vehicles.

Zipse emphasizes the importance of synthetic fuels for the existing ICE fleet, addressing environmental concerns and practical challenges in a rapid transition to electric vehicles (EVs). While BMW is progressing towards electrification, aiming for half of its sales to be EVs by the decade’s end, it contrasts with rivals’ more aggressive timelines.

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

BMW continues to offer traditional engine models and manual transmissions, highlighting a diversified strategy in the evolving automotive landscape.


BMW is taking a slower approach to transitioning away from combustion engines (ICE) compared to many other automakers. They emphasize the importance of offering a variety of powertrains and not rushing the demise of the ICE.

Key Arguments

  • Existing fleet: There are over 1 billion ICE vehicles on the road globally, and replacing them all with EVs quickly is impractical.
  • Synthetic fuels: e-fuels can help existing ICE vehicles run cleaner without requiring immediate replacement.
  • Consumer choice: Banning ICE sales could force people to keep their older cars for longer due to affordability and charging infrastructure limitations.
  • Technological openness: BMW believes in staying open to different technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells, not just EVs.

BMW’s Plan

  • 15% zero-emission vehicles by 2023.
  • 50% zero-emission vehicles by 2030.
  • Continued development of ICE alongside EV technology.
  • Maintaining manual transmission options in some models.

Comparison to Competitors

  • Many rivals are setting more aggressive EV targets, aiming for complete electrification by 2030 or earlier.
  • BMW is one of the few luxury brands still offering manual transmissions and V8 engines.

The stance of BMW’s CEO, Oliver Zipse, on the future of internal combustion engines (ICE) is quite clear from the information provided. Here are the key points from Zipse’s perspective, as reported:

  • Advocating for ICE Longevity: Zipse is not in favor of hastily setting an expiration date for ICE vehicles. He believes in maintaining the availability of a variety of powertrains, including traditional combustion engines.
  • Technology Openness: BMW’s approach, as explained by Zipse, is not about resisting change but about being open to different technologies. He emphasizes that this approach should not be seen as a lack of initiative.
  • Synthetic Fuels and E-fuels: Zipse points out the role of synthetic fuels in sustaining the current ICE fleet. He argues for the importance of these fuels in keeping existing vehicles running in a more environmentally friendly way.
  • Challenges with EV Transition: The BMW CEO highlights several challenges in transitioning entirely to electric vehicles (EVs):
  • The impracticality of replacing all ICE vehicles with EVs in a short timeframe.
  • Environmental concerns associated with manufacturing new electric cars.
  • Higher costs of EVs compared to ICE vehicles.
  • Insufficient charging infrastructure globally to support a widespread shift to EVs.
  • BMW’s EV Objectives: Despite the defence of ICE, BMW has set goals for increasing its EV production and sales. The company aims for zero-emission vehicles to make up 15% of its total deliveries this year and projects that by the end of the decade, half of its sales will be non-ICE vehicles.
  • Comparison with Rivals: BMW’s approach is contrasted with its main rivals like Mercedes, Audi, Jaguar, and Volvo, who have more aggressive timelines for transitioning to purely electric fleets.
  • BMW’s Commitment to ICE Models: The company continues to offer models with inline-six and V8 engines and is among the few luxury brands still offering manual gearboxes in certain models. The M division has pledged to retain its large-displacement engines until at least 2030.

BMW Environmental Strategy

Impact of Car Enthusiasts

The stance of companies like BMW on ICE and EVs significantly impacts car enthusiasts. The preservation of ICE vehicles means continued enjoyment of traditional engine sounds, driving dynamics, and the culture associated with classic and performance cars. BMW’s commitment to synthetic fuels and cleaner ICE technology also addresses environmental concerns without completely abandoning the ICE experience.

Meanwhile, the gradual shift towards EVs introduces enthusiasts to new performance capabilities, such as instant torque and innovative design possibilities. This transitional phase in the automotive industry offers enthusiasts a diverse range of experiences, blending the thrill of traditional driving with the advancements of electric technology.

Automotive Industry Trends

Pros and Cons of BMW’s Approach to Combustion Engines

Consumer Choice: Allows buyers to choose the powertrain that best suits their needs and budget.Slower Transition: Compared to competitors, BMW’s pace of EV adoption might be considered slow, potentially hindering progress towards emission reduction goals.
Technological Openness: Explores alternative powertrains like synthetic fuels and hydrogen fuel cells, potentially leading to future breakthroughs.ICE Dependence: Continued reliance on ICE technology could lead to a lock-in effect, making it harder and more expensive to switch to EVs in the future.
Existing Fleet: Acknowledges the reality of the massive existing ICE fleet and emphasizes the importance of cleaner options like e-fuels to reduce their environmental impact.Environmental Impact: While e-fuels offer some improvement, they are not a perfect solution and still contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
Pragmatism: Gradual transition allows BMW to adjust to market conditions and infrastructure development before fully committing to EVs, potentially minimizing risks and maximizing long-term success.Investor Pressure: Some investors might be concerned about BMW’s slower pace and lack of a clear deadline for complete EV adoption, potentially impacting their stock price.

BMW Electric Vehicle Goals

BMW, under Zipse’s leadership, is advocating a balanced approach to the transition to electric vehicles, emphasizing the continued relevance of ICE vehicles and the role of synthetic fuels. This stance is in contrast to some of its main competitors, who have set more aggressive timelines for phasing out ICE vehicles.


If you’re interested in the latest developments in the automotive industry, particularly the evolving perspectives on electric vehicles and internal combustion engines, I recommend staying updated with BMW’s strategies and advancements. Their approach, balancing the transition to EVs while advocating for the continued relevance of ICE vehicles, offers a unique insight into the industry’s future.

Keep an eye on BMW’s upcoming models and technological innovations, and consider exploring the broader market trends to compare different manufacturers’ strategies in this dynamic sector. This will provide a comprehensive view of how the automotive world is adapting to new environmental and technological challenges.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Motor1

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