BMW recently published it’s fourth quarter earnings results, and buried in the press release was a brief note that read, “On the product side, up to 50% of traditional drivetrain variants will be eliminated from 2021 onwards in the transition to creating enhanced, intelligent vehicle architectures—in favor of additional electrified drivetrains.”
It doesn’t take much in the way of interpretation skills to realize that this means BMW internal combustion engines are on the chopping block. We’ve seen this coming for a while, but rumors of a new V8 engine in development, and the possibility of the V12 sticking around just a bit longer were encouraging. Now, given a need to, “reduce complexity,” plans seem like they’re being accelerated, thus hastening the demise of the internal combustion engines made by one of the best companies in the business.
We were already aware that the BMW V12, which hasn’t had much in the way of a substantial update or redesign in well over a decade, was facing an uncertain future. BMW’s current V8 design has been around since 2008, and although it’s been said that a replacement is in the works, the latest earnings report casts a shadow of doubt over everything. BMW has made some truly excellent engines over the years, from four-cylinders to V8s, and beyond. Thinking about the end of internal combustion from a company whose name literally translates to Bavarian Motor Works is a bit depressing, regardless of the fact that we’ve been told they’re committed to using it until at least 2050. That might mean working with something like the heavily-boosted inline-three of the i8, but those that have appreciated the turbocharged snarl of that engine can attest to its captivating presence.
Whether or not BMW follows through on its aggressive plans to eliminate drivetrain variants by 2021 remains to be seen, but given the heavy investments into electromobility and other tech that are clearly evident on the latest earnings filing, the push to move on from gasoline-burning engines remains as clear as ever.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]