What Does BMW Know That The Rest Of Us Do Not?
It’s not a trick question, but if you have been following headlines for months, even years now, they have been filled with talk of new ‘Gigafactories’ to power the next generation of Tesla’s electric vehicles, hydrogen powertrains for Toyotas and hybrids over at Porsche (and others), and fracking. Well, in short, there has been a plethora of news on how automakers are chasing down the next technology for the time after all the oil is gone.
Even in this small news site, we have had so many headlines on the subject; we have even recently carried a headline about the new i3 from BMW, and it seemed that even our friends from Bavaria had jumped on the EV and hybrid bandwagon. However, it would now seem that those of us unlucky enough to be living in Malaysia will not get to buy any official alternative-powered BMW vehicle any time soon.
Even though locally assembled EVs are exempted from local taxes, making them very price-competitive, BMW Group Malaysia Sdn Bhd has announced that they will not be doing so due to poor demand for such vehicles in the country, even though the Group is confident of double-digit growth in the country this year.
At a media briefing, Dr Gerhard Pils, President of BMW Group Malaysia, stated that BMW would not be manufacturing any EVs in the country as the demand is just not there and the infrastructure is nowhere near developed enough to support EVs once they are on the road. He urged the government to offer incentives for automakers to sell EVs in the country, regardless of where they are manufactured.
The Malaysian government outlined plans for the Malaysian auto-making industry under the National Automotive Policy last month, in which excise duty exemptions are given to locally assembled (aka CKDs) hybrid and electric cars until 2015 and 2017 respectively. It is hoped that this move will encourage manufacturers to see Malaysia as the best place to invest in EV and hybrid technologies.
Pils said, “For the past 100 years, BMW has relied on the internal combustion engine and we believe that there is still potential for growth, however electric mobility is growing and governments need to play a pivotal role in pushing the demand for EVs.”
BMW recorded strong growth last year in Malaysia, with a 22.7% increase in sales, a total of 638 units. This does not seem like a big number compared to, say, sales of Protons that exceed 14 000 per month, but like many of the more prestigious marques, BMW is swamped with parallel imports in this territory. So it looks like, for the time being at least, BMW will maintain their sports sedan policy and we will have to await the official launch of the BMW i3.