BMW watching governments for green-technology direction, says Ian Robertson

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 17, 2011

The mention of the BMW brand may evoke its image of being a maker of high-performance luxury vehicles but it is now slowly moving to a greener future.

At the 2011 Automotive News World Congress, Ian Robertson, BMW Group's board member for marketing, said that BMW is looking at “sustainability as a key theme,” whether it is front-drive small cars, electric vehicles or diesels.

He said that governments are likelier to “force automakers' technological hands than consumer desires.” Robertson predicts that electric vehicles will soon make up 5 to 7% of the global vehicle mix.

But he believes that there could be a massive shift in demand if there’s a breakthrough in battery technology and Beijing mandates EV sales in its congested metro markets.

Chinese companies and research universities are racing to develop the ultimate battery for vehicles; in fact, it is a nationwide technical agenda. Robertson said that the technology that would have the most traction can’t be determined for now.

However, he has dismissed hydrogen power. Even if BMW tested the hydrogen-powered 7 series just a few years ago, it is an uncertain technology because of storage and infrastructure issues.

Another issue that carmakers have to resolve is that they have to improve the fuel economy ratings of their current fleets while racing for the alternative-fuels killer app. This is the reason for BMW’s move to soon introduce front-drive small cars. [via autonews - sub. required]

Topics: bmw, technology

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