BMW i3 in Oslo, Norway

Over half a century ago, the auto industry fought against seat belts. Then, in the 1970s, they fought against smog regulations because of expensive catalytic converters. They also opposed other safety standards like airbags. Today, legacy automakers cling to diesel and fight against reducing emissions. The latest target of their displeasure and dismay? Electric vehicles.

BMW is the latest example. John Carey sat down with Klaus Frölich, the 58-year-old BMW board member in charge of development. According to the senior BMW executive, electric vehicles will always be more costly than gas-burners. “No, no, no,” was Frölich’s reply when asked if EVs will ever equal the prices of equivalent conventional cars. “Never.”

“It’s very simple,” says Frölich. In EVs with 90 to 100kWh battery packs, the cell cost alone will be $17,000 to $25,000. “You can produce whole cars, only with the cost of the battery,” he says. And Frölich doesn’t buy into the theory that when batteries are being produced in larger numbers, prices will fall. Instead, he deflects — noting certain materials in batteries which may become more expensive.

model 3 sales
Tesla's Model 3, meanwhile, goes Pac-Man on BMW and the entire mid-size luxury sedan market.

An example, he claims, is cobalt. “When everybody wants to have cobalt, the prices of cobalt will not go down, they will go up,” Frölich predicts. Nevertheless, he says BMW is working to secure low prices for cobalt out until 2030. “We are the only ones who are doing that,” he says. But Tesla has already set its sites on cobalt-free batteries.

Even though BMW plans to grow its portfolio of electrified vehicles, Frölich sounds anxious about leaving the gas-guzzling internal combustion engine behind. “So, it’s a nightmare that an electrified vehicle will cost the same as a combustion-engined car,” Frölich says. This could be contributing to the company’s lag in sales this year and why many of its customers could be turning to Tesla.


Article originally published on evannex.com by Matt Pressman. EVANNEX offers aftermarket accessories, parts, and gear for Tesla owners. The Florida-based company also maintains a daily blog on the latest Tesla news.