In the latest move of industry consolidation, BMW and Jaguar are joining forces on the electrical front. BMW’s current generation-four eDrive technology will soon be replaced with a fifth-gen, and the technology is set to be shared with Jaguar Land Rover for use future vehicles produced by the British marque, which was formerly owned by BMW and now Tata Motors. BMW brass is specifically citing a common goal of environmental prioritization, and that both automakers will benefit from increased economies of scale.
While BMW has one of the most impressive EV portfolios, particularly in Europe, where some of the states have a much greater take-rate than the U.S., Jaguar has also been championing the effort within its own lineup. Deliveries of the all-electric I-Pace crossover began during the second half of last year, and it joins two other different conventionally-motivated models for a total of three SUVs in the portfolio. The move follows a series of announcements in which BMW and Daimler merged their mobility services, promised future collaboration on autonomous tech, and hinted at eventually sharing components and platforms.
There’s a bit more to the story though, in that BMW has a unique advantage with its eDrive technology which uses motors that do not require rare-earth metals. Used in everything around you including your phone, tablet, and computer to name a few devices, the market for rare-earth metals is controlled almost exclusively by China, and the processes involved with mining, extracting, and purifying the raw materials is a point of contention for the true sustainability of electric vehicles. More recently, China has also signaled that their monopoly on rare-earth metals could be weaponized in the ongoing Sino-U.S. trade war, as it is being referred to in the Chinese press.
Particularly of interest is the previously unconfirmed rumor that BMW was also in talks with Daimler for an agreement similar to that which has been reached with Jaguar. BMW, Daimler, and others are by no means alone in the latest chapter of automotive industry consolidation in an effort to efficiently embrace electrification, but one potential motivating factor for working with Jaguar Land Rover may have been the executive staff. It wasn’t so long ago that Land Rover was owned by BMW, and today, two key executives are holdovers from that period, who came to the British marque after lengthy careers at BMW. One also can’t ignore the similar branding the two brands use for their EV models.
BMW’s Gen 5 eDrive technology will debut with the iX3 later this year. The purely-electric SAV will have a 250-mile range, and manufacturing will be carried out exclusively in Shenyang, China.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG, Jaguar Land Rover.]