Cheap pump prices put squeeze on EVs, admits BMW boss

Published: 19 January 2015

Electric cars will feel the squeeze if fuel prices remain low, the marketing chief of BMW has admitted.

Ian Robertson said that the BMW i3 would become a harder sell if cheap fuel prices continued to erode the attractiveness of EV running costs.

‘There are some short-term changes that will occur in some countries,’ he told Bloomberg at the DLD-15 digital conference this week. ‘There would be some moves toward some bigger-engine vehicles.’

Why car buyers may switch back to fossil fuels from EVs

The global drop in oil prices has seen dramatic cuts in the running costs for many motorists. In some parts of the UK, pump prices have dropped below £1 a litre for the first time in years.

With fuel being the largest visible cost for many drivers, it’s inevitable that the attractiveness of running an electric car is being eroded.

However, Robertson is adamant that EVs remain a viable long-term solution and the current blip in prices will not affect Munich’s strategy.

‘The legislative framework in the US and Europe, China and Japan is clear, and it’s not going to change,’ he said. ‘The advent of zero-emission cars is coming, so our strategy remains on that track.’

How the BMW i3 and i8 are doing

Automotive News reported that BMW delivered 16,051 i3 electric cars in 2014 and 1741 i8 plug-in hybrid sports cars.

That’s 0.8% of Beemer’s total output. Small fry, but quite an impressive number nonetheless.

Still, we bet the hawks in Munich are watching the oil trading prices with renewed interest...

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet