Many automakers have announced bold plans to electrify their lineups in the coming years. Some are quickly transitioning to fully electric portfolios, while others are tiptoeing their way to electrification with a combination of full EVs and hybrids. However, not every type of car could survive that transition.
A new Autocar report suggests the future of BMW’s small, front-wheel-drive models could be in jeopardy as the industry shifts. According to a very talkative source at the company, the UKL architecture that underpins several BMW Group models today, including the next-generation Mini and BMW X1, won’t easily accommodate larger hybrid powertrains, which could be a requirement if BMW wants to continue offering those models in the European market.
According to the source, another hurdle facing the platform is its sales volume, or lack thereof. BMW’s small vehicles don’t sell well in the US, although small sedans are very popular in China, doing solid sales numbers there. If BMW were to drop its small vehicles, it’d be leaving the vital market to its rivals, and it might not be an area where the company wants to pull back.
Yet another potential pain point for the platform is Europe’s ever-tightening emissions regulations, which could see automakers be required to install larger catalytic converters to cut down on pollution. That’s just another potential hurdle BMW engineers and designers might have to contend with when planning future UKL-based models.
Automotive product planners have to predict the future, which is difficult to do. Battery and charging technology is improving every year. The next-gen X1 is expected to arrive with mild-hybrid gas and turbodiesel engines and a rumored plug-in hybrid option, similar to the current model, so some electrification on the platform is possible, but it might not be accommodating enough to justify the costs as BMW transitions to EVs. Even the new Mini could have a plug-in hybrid variant, but only time will tell if that’s still possible for what comes after.