As BMW prepares to debut the next generation of its 7 Series luxury sedans, and with it the new all-electric i7, the company today turned its attention to its overall EV portfolio in April, including the upcoming iX1. . An electrified version of the popular small SUV.
They will join the company’s technological flagship iX and sporty i4, announced last year. Of course, all this is happening against the backdrop of a global shortage of chips and a general crisis in the supply chain, as well as the current raging war in Ukraine.
At today’s press conference, BMW CTO Frank Weber mentioned that i4 production will begin midway through the year, but that’s all we know for now. As for the i7, the company showed off some teasers at its annual convention this morning, highlighting the car’s new (and larger) grille that’s sure to get BMW fans talking. For the i7, BMW is promising an EPA electric range of 305 miles, which is in line with expectations. But as a flagship sedan, there is also the 7 Series and especially the i7, where the company will introduce many new technologies.
“Series 7 is not just another product for us. Series 7 is the sum total of our capabilities. This is exactly what we can do. Not only is the i7 the most powerful electric car ever made, it feels like second in line to a movie theater, doors open and close automatically – and there’s a long, long list of things to do. It has an art form, so it has real digital art in it,” Weber said – and he himself had a little laugh at the extravagance of it all.
How BMW is coping with the chip shortage
But of course, these cars are getting more and more sophisticated in terms of the technology inside them, and so BMW (and everyone else in the company) is suffering from a chip supply crisis. This meant, for example, that last year the company had to abandon the installation of touch screens in some cars. Weber said the chip crisis has not changed the company’s overall plans to expand electric vehicle production.
“We need a lot of energy to deal with the challenges of the chip crisis,” he said at today’s meeting. “As a team, we are really proud of how we are handling the chip crisis, our manufacturing systems and our supply chain systems are really flexible and we can respond very quickly. This gave us a competitive edge last year. We think this will give us a competitive edge this year as well, but we expect it to be the same throughout the year. He said the company initially thought its supply chain would recover in the second half of 2022, but BMW now believes it will continue throughout the year. “Like last year, so this year. We haven’t changed any release dates, we haven’t changed any volume assumptions, birth assumptions, or deployment assumptions due to chip limitations,” Weber said.
Similarly, he does not expect the war in Ukraine to have long-term consequences for BMW. But Weber also noted that the company sourced wiring harnesses from Ukraine, like some of its competitors, primarily for engines and transmissions. Weber noted that about 20,000 people are employed in this industry in Ukraine, mostly in the western part of the country. “We don’t just want to take the job there. We have now copied machines to help make these harnesses,” he said, adding that while there are only a few BMW engines that rely entirely on harnesses made in Ukraine, the company said normal production will resume next week.
Partnership with Qualcomm
Weber also noted the company’s recent partnerships with Qualcomm and Arriver, the company’s mobile software division. This partnership isn’t so much about the lack of a chip as it says that BMW is bigger in the tech stack thanks to its autonomous driving system and infotainment offerings. Weber also noted that the partnership is an example of how his company is now looking at its supply chain in a more global way.
“This is the global economy, whether we like it or not. Regional solutions and not using what is available around the world would be such a blow to how accustomed we are to making exceptional products, I can’t imagine going back there. We are connected. And really, I can only hope that we can get back to some of them, not that after everything is resolved, everyone will think that we need to fix problems in every area. It just won’t work. ,
As for the general move to electric vehicles, Weber has made it clear that BMW is not setting a cut-off date for internal combustion engines. Before thinking about it, he said, there needs to be a green energy infrastructure to charge these cars and a strong influx of raw materials to make batteries, as well as a charging infrastructure. BMW wants to phase out combustion engine technology and increase the number of battery-electric vehicles.
“The last thing we want — perhaps because it seems politically appropriate — is to just cancel everything that doesn’t work. You need to make sure that this ramp rises and falls at the same time and runs smoothly. These are big industrial processes, and it’s not just about personal vehicles,” Weber said. It seemed somewhat optimistic about hydrogen, but more for heavy trucks than personal vehicles, mainly due to the weight it would take to fit the batteries into a truck with sufficient range. ,