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BMW Head of Development Klaus Fröhlich in an interview

Interview with BMW Head of Development Klaus Fröhlich
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BMW is reviving the eighth. What distinguishes the new model?

F röhlich: The message is very clear: The new BMW 8 Series and before The M8 in particular comes from the racetrack to the road. The car will be a credible sporty concept.

So it will first get a conventional drive train?

Happy: Yes. However, thanks to our flexible architecture, we can already electrify all of our models and offer plug-in hybrids depending on customer demand. And with the further development of our vehicle architectures and the increasing energy density of batteries, we will then also be able to flexibly and quickly introduce purely electric vehicles in every model series with sufficient range. For me, it makes perfect sense in the next decade to electrify sporty and also very sporty cars - especially with increasing power density, the weight of the batteries in the cars can be reduced significantly with increased range and driving pleasure increased.

Why only in the next decade?

Fröhlich: We need very powerful e-machines and battery technology in particular has to be for another, maybe even two generations further develop towards the power cell.

So the technology of an i8 is not good enough for an M?

Happy: Die The architecture of the vehicle is completely different from that of the M8, as the engine is located in the front end of the M8. The electric drive in such a vehicle must be able to be integrated between the combustion engine and the rear axle. In general, I find a power hybrid exciting, as it can also make e-mobility emotional. Customers in the USA in particular, but also in Europe, are only willing to choose such a product if it has an emotional kick. E-mobility has to be staged more.

Does that mean, for example, that the driver of a 118d will not be offered an alternative in the foreseeable future?

Happy: With the plug-in hybrid BMW 225e xDrive, we have chosen the top-down approach and also offered the customer all-wheel drive. Of course, in the next generation we will also use lower hybridsOffer performance levels. Here, however, a further degression in technology costs is necessary. Especially in entry-level segments like the 118d, the current costs cannot be conveyed to customers.

When will there be specific offers in this segment?

Fröhlich: We have big plans for our “Gen 5” electric drive generation. On the one hand we will have vehicle architectures and on the other hand we will have construction kits for drives. This significantly increases our flexibility. The 'Gen 5' for pure electric drives will come in 2021 with the BMW iNext. This is a highly flexible modular system, which means that the technology will also fit into models that came onto the market two or three years earlier. From then on, we can also electrify them. As you can see, 2021 will be a very important year for us: by then we will have created the conditions to bring all-battery vehicles to the fore, we will take a big step towards power hybrids and we will also use cost-reduced e-cars in the entry-level classes. Drives have offers.

If i-Next becomes part of a construction kit, does the era of completely separate architectures for i-models end?

Happy: No. We will continue to have icons such as today's i3 or i8 and also significantly expand the range of i models. We proceed here as with the M models. By the way, we will also have more M-Performance and more i-Performance models in the future portfolio

What economies of scale can you achieve with the aforementioned modular system, if that Elements have to fit into such different concepts?

Happy: The economies of scale are great! We develop a battery cell or a module as part of a project and can then use it across all brands. This also applies to other technologies, for example around autonomous driving, which we are currently developing with the BMW iNext.

Electromobility, autonomous driving - everything is great, but it is currently recording M GmbH and its competitors have seen immense growth rates. What conclusions do you draw from this for your model timetable?

Fröhlich: One of the reasons for this was certainly the BMW M2 - one of my favorite cars. The M2 is the essence of M. It's about absolute driving pleasure and not just about the last tenth on the racetrack. It's about a pinch of irrationality and youthful freshness. Enjoyment of daily driving. You don't drive to the Nürburgring every day. And especially with such offers, I still see great potential.

Doesn't the same apply to the sister brand i?

Fröhlich: Definitely. And the current oneBMW i8 is already a very emotional, sporty car.

Doesn't it make you think that even these days the oldschool M topic is still more popular than i?

Happy: What is 'old school' about M? At M, we have always mapped and developed the state of the art. And e-boost and recuperation also go very well with M. We have to win customers over - regardless of the drive or brand - with emotional concepts. And that also and especially applies to design. Here customers want to see bigger leaps. We understand that.

What future prospects do you predict for the combustion engine?

Happy: The combustion engine has a future . We will soon see more than 100 million new registrations a year worldwide. Not all countries can and will not be able or willing to afford an electrical infrastructure in the medium to long term. Of course, we have to further reduce the consumption of these engines. And we have ambitious goals in terms of electromobility: 100,000 cars with electrified drives sold in 2017 and 20 percent of our vehicles sold should be electric cars by 2025.

What are your plans for Reduction of emissions in gasoline engines?

Fröhlich: The next step is the introduction of particle filters. This is a challenge, especially in high-performance vehicles, because these filters generate enormous counter pressure. In the combustion process, water injection is interesting because it can have a twofold effect: an increase in performance by increasing knock resistance and a reduction in raw nitrogen oxide emissions. That is why water spraying is possible in our engine kit - but it will not be offered in a wide range in the near future. It is particularly efficient when it is injected directly into the combustion chamber. But there is currently no series supplier for this system and it also requires an additional container installed in the car. But it is giving me increasing headaches that we can no longer meet the requirements with internal engine measures, but have to integrate more and more additional systems into the car, increasing complexity. Of course, recuperation using 48-volt technology also plays a role here. With this alone, a double-digit reduction in CO2 emissions can be achieved without the customer being at a disadvantage. As you can see, all of our cars must be prepared for all technologies in the future.

That primarily means more weight. In addition, there are new crash requirements and some markets simply want larger cars. Is a relevant weight reduction even possible in the future?

Fröhlich: With the current cluster architecture, we have already succeeded. Here we havebetween 50 and 80 kilograms increase due to new functions. Nevertheless, we were able to save between 50 and 150 kg in weight. But it's getting harder and harder. An SCR system alone requires an additional 20 liter tank. A 48V system with proper recuperation on the order of 20 kW requires a large, heavy additional battery. The regulatory requirements are clearly driving the weight in the wrong direction. You have to be prepared for anything - anywhere in the world. The crash regulations in the USA, for example, also provide for incorrect operation: we have to consider how we can catch an unbuckled 100 kilogram person as gently as possible in a multi-stage airbag. Because of the protective systems installed, this also has an effect on the weight of the vehicle.

Is there a new material that might help you with this problem?

Fröhlich: There is currently enormous competition, but also advances in materials. A few years ago there was the trend towards aluminum. That then drove the entire steel industry to peak performance. As a result of the competition, steel has developed in a downright revolutionary manner. In the future it will increasingly depend on the sensible mix. The common metric is euros invested per kilogram of weight saved. For volume vehicles, we are currently saving between five and seven euros per kilogram. With a large car like a 5 or 7 Series, I am quite prepared to invest up to 10 euros per kilogram. We are therefore also expanding our lightweight construction center in Landshut: we have to develop further with aluminum, steel, carbon fiber composites (CFRP) and magnesium. The combination of aluminum and CFRP on the roof arch of the seven, for example, helps us enormously to meet the requirements of the roll-over crash test in the USA with a length of around three meters without the A-pillar getting thicker. We will see this component in many other vehicles as well.

Isn't that getting in the way of the slow production rate of CFRP parts?

Fröhlich: First of all, it is important to produce as little waste as possible. With our further developed processes, this is now very successful. And since the investment in such a tool is lower than, for example, in a steel press, we can produce in parallel. Mercedes is ahead of BMW in sales.

What do you do in development to get back to the top?

Merry: Especially in design, in the perceived modernity, we will be daring bigger leaps. Future models will show even more character, emotionality and personality - even if they are based on a common architecture. A good example of this are cars as different as the 3 Series GT and the M2. OneAnother field is electromobility. At the beginning of this decade, we rolled out the first generation of our electric drives and, thanks to our architecture, can already offer a plug-in hybrid in every model series if there is corresponding customer demand. With the further development of the architectures, from 2020/21 we will be able to offer a purely battery-electric vehicle in every model series.

First interview with Klaus Fröhlich at CES

Already at the beginning of 2017 auto motor und sport met with BMW Chief Development Officer Klaus Fröhlich to talk to him about the way back to the top of sales, about diesel in small cars, the front-wheel drive strategy and electric cars. Read the interview here:

How are the new operating technologies that you presented here at CES going into production?

Happy: You will see these technologies more and more in our vehicles after 2021. We have a modular architecture, so we can incorporate infotainment updates and driver assistance systems into all model series every three years.

With the BMW iNext, we will be a big step ahead again in 2021.
You want to strengthen the i family. Is it then enough to simply announce another model?

Happy: BMW i and M are our cornerstones. For me, BMW i is also a kind of internal start-up with which I can bring new topics to the company quickly and with agility. 'Project i' was about electromobility, sustainability and lightweight construction. “Project i 2.0” is now about autonomous driving and digitization. And BMW i is not just about the core models i3 and i8, but also about iPerformance. At the end of 2017, we will already be offering ten electrified models. 'I' stands for 'innovation' and therefore has to reinvent itself again and again. BMW M has it easier there. The concept of longitudinal and lateral acceleration is easier to understand.

Does it annoy you that Audi and Mercedes are bringing their electric SUVs with a range of around 500 kilometers in 2018/19 Don't you have the X3 until 2020?

Happy: No, thatdoesn't annoy me at all. These cars are solitaires with which colleagues want to learn. We have that behind us. And with the BMW iNext, we will be one big step ahead again in 2021. My topics are industrialization and scalability to reduce costs. I therefore prefer to put our development capacity into these topics and not into the construction of further showcases.

In contrast to Daimler, you do not establish an electrical kit, but bring the next Mini and X3 as e-cars on the standard modular system. Is that better?

Happy: Yes. You cannot reliably predict trends. For example, the emissions scandal triggered a wave of regulations that could not have been foreseen. What if at some point in Beijing you can only sell all-electric vehicles? Then you would have to build a new one for electric vehicles in addition to your previous factory for combustion engines. That does not make sense. I focus more on flexibility, then you can breathe with different demands, with different requirements.

Do you continue to focus on front-wheel drive like Mercedes?

Fröhlich: The front-wheel drive architecture will be the biggest volume driver. At the same time, however, it is the cars with the lowest contribution margin. Earning money here is always a challenge. A BEV variant or complex exhaust gas aftertreatment then quickly pushes the contribution margin into the negative range. But we will continue to grow here.

Does the diesel still make sense in the long term in the small vehicle classes, or would you have to leave this segment?

Fröhlich: In the medium term, this will partly happen by itself, because at least in the small vehicle classes, the costs for exhaust gas aftertreatment can no longer be passed on to customers in the face of competition. You can see that in the entry-level models from German and French volume manufacturers. They have already taken diesel out of this segment.

How difficult is it to achieve the required CO2 values?

Happy : It's a business challenge. The use of a 48-volt recuperation system costs a four-digit euro amount per vehicle in the first generation, which the customer initially does not want to pay. In my opinion, however, there will only be significant cost effects in the second or third generation, i.e. after 2020. It cannot be ruled out that we will consciously have a higher R&D quota for a while. It is usually in the 5 to 5.5 percent corridor. At the moment, however, we have to tackle a large number of issues in parallel: further develop combustion engines, bring plug-in hybrids and BEVs onto the market, promote connectivity, autonomous onesRealize driving. That costs a lot of money.


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