Tuesday, May 19, 2015

BMW Puts Turbo on Clean Vehicles

BMW New Car

Constrained by European regulations, the Bavarian manufacturer multiplies innovations to reduce CO2 emissions without sacrificing too much power models. Its affluence permits. The rechargeable hybrid X5 SUV. Fabien Kirchbauer / The BMW X5 plug-in hybrid SUV. Four Cylinders. This is the name the BMW headquarters in Munich, built for the 1972 Olympic games and consists of four cylindrical buildings. This, the 22nd floor, which must settle it on May 13, Harald Krüger, 49, the new CEO of Bavarian manufacturer, freshly inducted by shareholders to replace Norbert Reithofer, struck by the limit age. The Four Cylinders symbolizes the success of the firm. The engines made BMW's reputation. These are also the ones who are its major challenges for the future.

Record in year 2014
The leading manufacturer of premium cars is in top form. In 2014, it recorded its fifth record year, as emphasized Reithofer at its (final) review conference in March. For the first time, with Mini and Rolls-Royce, BMW has surpassed last year the milestone of 2 million vehicles sold, and an operating margin honorable for automotive operations 9.6% (against 9.4% 2013). At the same time, net profit was 5.8 billion (+ 9%).

However, Harald Krüger, former HRD, whose last post was head of the production group, has a heavy task. "The challenge is that of the fight against CO2" confided, there a few weeks Challenges, Norbert Reithofer. The sports car manufacturer must become champion ... low consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases. Rude challenge. BMW is indeed required to reach the threshold of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer per vehicle, set by Brussels 2021.

Last year, the average releases of the firm's models were around 130 grams. But most are lowered, the more marginal gains become difficult and expensive. This requirement concerns certainly all manufacturers. "But the Germans, who make big cars, are facing a particularly difficult challenge," do you tip for Peugeot Citroën. Indeed, for a manufacturer of luxury models and powerful whose driving pleasure and performance remain the primary strengths, not easy to improvise car manufacturer "green".

New modular engines
Krüger's predecessors had started the job. Reithofer launched as early as 2007 its strategy called "Efficient Dynamics" (ED) to reduce consumption - and CO2 emissions - through the optimization engines, recovery of braking energy and better aerodynamics. Result: a BMW 116d ED compact sedan three-cylinder (116 horsepower) now emits just 89 grams of greenhouse gas. The equivalent of a base diesel Renault Clio. And last midrange sedan 320d ED passes under the bar to 100 grams ... more than 165 horses.

All these vehicles are equipped with the new range of modular engines from BMW, three of four and soon six-cylinder petrol and diesel from a same cylinder of 500 cubic centimeters. "Thus produced a lot of synergies, argues Klaus Fröhlich, Director of Research and Development BMW. In addition, there is the kind of very flexible production lines."

But Harald Krüger knows he will have to accelerate. Electrifying cars "Without electrification, it will not happen to 95 grams," joked Klaus Fröhlich. In September, the Munich will market a large SUV X5 hybrid (gasoline-electric) rechargeable high power (313 horses), emitting just 78 grams of CO2 per kilometer, with an electric range of 30 kilometers. Like all BMW SUV (except X1), the hypersophistiqué vehicle will be manufactured in Spartanburg (South Carolina). The group is investing € 950 million to become the first factory of the group in 2017.

BMW and relays the innovations tested on its pioneering range "i", launched in fall 2013 and dedicated to green vehicles vanguard. Proposed in France from 35,490 euros, the i3 is a pure electric with a unique aluminum chassis and a highly innovative interior in carbon fiber reinforced composites, for lightness. Optionally, it can receive a range extender, which adds a thermal booster motor and a small gasoline tank to avoid the anguish of discharged batteries. Last July, BMW added a plug-in hybrid supercar ... very high i8 performance, strong 365 horsepower, which costs 136,800 euros. Just to prove that ecology can also rhyme with sport.

Agreements with Toyota
"We strongly believe in the plug-in hybrid and, longer term, to hydrogen vehicles," said Peter Nicolas, Director of BMW's European sales. By 2020, the group expects to achieve 10% of its sales with electrified models. Early 2013 to accelerate and achieve scale economies to Audi (Volkswagen Group) and Mercedes (linked to Renault-Nissan Alliance), BMW has signed agreements on new hybrid technologies, hydrogen vehicles with Toyota, the specialist in the field. "BMW corresponds to Toyota's expectations in terms of skills and will gain years of experience," says the CEO of Toyota France, Pascal Ruch.

This strategy is obviously devourer of investments. "I see no fault in the BMW armor, but this does not exclude the questions, says Guillaume Crunelle, sector expert Deloitte. Thus, because of its size, it is questionable whether it will have the ability to track the pace of innovation ahead. " For now, the German company has the means. In the past two years she has spent 8.4 billion euros for research and development, while earning 11.7 billion euros of liquidity. What to see come. By Alain-Gabriel Verdevoye

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