BMW has set up a "speed boat" unit to boost its self-driving expertise but will roll out autonomous car technology gradually, development chief Klaus Froehlich says. The executive spoke about BMW's electric-car and autonomous driving strategies, as well as the fallout from Volkswagen's emissions scandal with Automobilwoche, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe.
What is the industry learning from Volkswagen's diesel emissions scandal?
That it is not just a matter of following the law within its defined scope but its spirit as well. Every manufacturer has to regain trust with its actions. So the result is not really an occasion for BMW to celebrate.
Do more stringent emissions rules in the future mean added costs for BMW's engines?
That will inevitably be the case. In all, I expect we will spend significantly more than 1,000 euros in addition on [each of] our cars.
Will that amount be passed on to the customer?
We can't just pass on these costs. It's not feasible in this highly competitive market. The customer won't go along with it. The emissions rules offer no direct customer benefit. The total cost of ownership is the customer's most important calculation. In this matter, there is dissonance between public opinion and actual customer behavior.
If a premium manufacturer like BMW can't do it, then how can a high-volume manufacturer do it?
I think this issue will hit the basic manufacturer even harder. As BMW, we are in the fortunate position of being able to charge a price premium for our emotionally appealing, high-value products.
How do you plan to sell electric cars profitably? In the same way?
No, when it comes to electric mobility, we're talking about entirely different challenges and tasks.
Do incentives help electric car sales?
Compared to conventional cars, we are already accepting a reduction in the profit contribution of our electric cars. That means we are already promoting them massively.