In partnership with BMW.
You might not have driven an electric car just yet, but in the not-so-distant future – we’re talking potentially within the next ten-or-so years – they will likely be the only kind of car the big manufacturers are making.
By 2030, many car companies have claimed most of their sales will come from electric vehicles (EVs), with only a tiny, if any, percentage coming from combustion engines.
One company working towards a fully electric future is BMW, which is focused on making EVs and, importantly, making the whole production process more sustainable.
When it comes to putting a time frame on when electric vehicles will outnumber combustion engines, Leanne Blanckenberg, General Manager of Corporate Communications at BMW Group Australia says, “Although it is difficult to put a time on it, the future looks bright for the prevalence of electric vehicles on Australian roads based on recent figures and trends.”
Blanckenberg continues, “To the end of August, sales of both battery-electric and hybrid vehicles were up 172 per cent compared with the same period last year. BMW Group has also seen a steady increase. Registrations of battery-electric and plug-in hybrid BMW and MINI models saw a 216 per cent year-to-date increase to the end of August 2021. We can only see those numbers increasing as the regulatory environment improves and evolves and we move forward with our aggressive electric product strategy.”
They share that by the end of Q1, 2022, BMW will have three new EVs on sale: the iX3, iX and i4.
“At that time we will have 10 electrified models across the BMW and MINI portfolios on offer – that’s among the most of any manufacturer represented in Australia and underlines our commitment to the local market,” she tells us.
Blanckenberg describes the benefits of driving an EV as “vast and across the board”, explaining it’s not simply the zero emissions from EVs or the significantly reduced emissions and low fuel consumption of a plug-in hybrid.
“The instant torque provides an exhilarating and dynamic driving sensation, while the removal of an engine and all its moving parts adds to the feeling of refinement, smoothness and a hint at what the future looks like,” she says.
“Recuperation built into electric cars, whereby the electric motor becomes a generator and returns energy to the EV battery, additionally adds to the experience by allowing you to drive in many situations with just the accelerator pedal while allowing the car to brake itself via recuperation.
“Other benefits, particularly on next-generation electric cars that are either on sale now or due for imminent launch, means additional space in the cabin due to the absence of a transmission tunnel in the centre of the vehicle. This provides an airy, futuristic feel to the interior while providing additional accommodation for occupants.”
Importantly, the distance an EV can travel on a full charge is also improving “all the time”, according to Blanckenberg.
“The capability of electric vehicles is now at a level that enables drivers to go well beyond the city limits. For example, our BMW iX3, which launches before the end of the year, delivers 460km on the WLTP [Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure] cycle.
“The flagship version of the iX – which will also launch at the same time – will be capable of 620km of driving range. The situation will continue to improve too. BMW Group, for example, will continue pushing the boundaries of all aspects of electric driving. This applies, in particular, to further increasing ranges and higher charging speeds depending on the individual model.”
As for combustion engines, Blanckenberg says they will play an important role in bridging the complete transition to electromobility in the future.
“For example, combustion engines are a critical element in our BMW and MINI plug-in hybrid vehicles by working in unison with electric motors and lithium-ion batteries,” she says. “We see these vehicles, some of which can offer more than 80km of fully electric range, as a transitional technology that can provide a peek at what electromobility can offer while offering the support of a combustion engine in a world where EV charging infrastructure is still getting off the ground.
“Outside plug-in hybrids, combustion engines are still an important part of our strategy across our portfolios for now. We have constantly improved our offering in this area by delivering greater efficiency and lower emissions while maintaining a high level of engaging high-performance attributes that are hallmarks of the BMW brand.”
However, for EVs to become more affordable here in Australia, Blanckenberg believes we need improved regulations and policies by our government, similar to countries such as Norway, where there is considerable government support of EVs. This support has led to EVs representing almost 75 per cent of the total vehicle market in 2020.
In Australia, the different states and territories all have their own strategy to increase EV sales. For example, from September 2021, the New South Wales government removed stamp duty from EVs under $78,000 and from all other EVs and plug-in hybrids from 1 July 2027, or when EVs make up at least 30 per cent of new car sales.
In South Australia, the government offers a $3,000 subsidy for residents purchasing a new EV to help take-up of zero to low emission vehicles.
Over the next two years, both Western Australia and Queensland plan for rapid expansion of the charging network, including electric superhighways, which will undoubtedly please Australian consumers who have reservations about the current lack of accessibility to charging ports.