BMW looking for partners to develop small electric cars

A BMW logo is seen on a car at the International Auto Show in Mexico City last week. The automaker is seeking partners to develop small electric cars. (Reuters)
Updated 30 November 2017
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BMW looking for partners to develop small electric cars

LOS ANGELES: Germany’s BMW is talking with other automakers “around the world” to try to find partners to lower the cost of electrifying its future Mini small cars, management board member Peter Schwarzenbauer told Reuters.
“We are talking to many OEMs (manufacturers) around the world, not only in China, (about) how to electrify smaller cars,” Schwarzenbauer said. “There’s no final conclusion on it.”
Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor said last month it was discussing a possible venture to build Mini vehicles in China. BMW currently does not build Mini vehicles outside Europe.
Schwarzenbauer declined to discuss the Great Wall situation, saying “this was speculation.”
However, he said building smaller electric cars was challenging, not only because of the financial costs, but also the engineering problem of fitting batteries with sufficient range into a smaller vehicle package.
BMW has worked with rivals before to share the costs of clean vehicle technology. The automaker has a partnership with Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. to develop fuel cell vehicles.
BMW has said it plans to launch a new, electric Mini model in 2019. Eventually, Mini could become an entirely electric brand, aimed at urban consumers, Schwarzenbauer said.
Mini sales in the US have fallen 10 percent through the first 10 months of this year, as demand for many smaller cars has waned in favor of sport-utility vehicles and trucks.
“It’s really only in the US where we are facing this with Mini,” Schwarzenbauer said.
BMW will not try to reverse that trend by adding larger SUVs to the Mini lineup, Schwarzenbauer said. Instead, he said, “the way for Mini in the US is ... building the Mini brand in the direction of the electric urban mobility company.”
On a separate issue, Schwarzenbauer said BMW intended to offer a self-driving car planned to debut in 2021 at a price that could be below $100,000.
The iNEXT model, which BMW previewed earlier this year, will be offered to individuals, ride services fleets and put into service in BMW fleets, Schwarzenbauer said.
“By 2021, you will have a lot of people who want to own this car,” he said. “It will be a normal price. We are thinking of scaling this. To bring a $150,000 electric car is nice, but it will not really scale.”
When it launches, the iNEXT may not be offered with complete, so-called Level 5, autonomy because the regulatory and legal frameworks for such a vehicle likely won’t be in place, Schwarzenbauer said.
 
 


Oil prices drop amid surprise jump in US stockpiles

Updated 18 July 2018
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Oil prices drop amid surprise jump in US stockpiles

  • US West Texas Intermediate crude was down 36 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $67.72
  • On the demand-side, intensifying risks over trade tensions between the US and China could drag on the global economic outlook, BMI Research said

TOKYO: Oil prices dropped on Wednesday after an industry group reported that US crude inventories rose last week, defying analyst expectations for a significant reduction.
Brent futures were down 31 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $71.85 a barrel by 0240 GMT. They rose 32 cents to $72.16 a barrel on Tuesday, after earlier touching a three-month low.
US West Texas Intermediate crude was down 36 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $67.72. It settled up 2 cents at $68.08 a barrel the session before, coming off a nearly one-month low.
The benchmarks had steadied after big declines on Monday and last week as supply disruptions in Venezuela came to the fore and as analysts had been forecasting a decline of 3.6 million barrels in US inventories for the week through July 13.
But the specter of oversupply quickly returned, with a rise of more than 600,000 barrels in US crude stockpiles, reported by the American Petroleum Institute late on Tuesday.
Official numbers from the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration are due at 10:30 a.m. EDT on Wednesday.
On the demand-side, intensifying risks over trade tensions between the US and China could drag on the global economic outlook, BMI Research said.
“Despite US-China trade tensions, the economic outlook is broadly positive, but a number of headwinds are emerging, not least a stronger dollar, rising inflationary pressures and tightening liquidity,” BMI said.
“Slowing trade growth will weigh on physical demand for oil, with the shipping, road and air freight sectors an important pillar of demand globally,” BMI said.
One US central banker added her voice late on Tuesday to those sounding caution on trade.
Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Esther George said that uncertainty over US trade policy could slow the economy, even if the recently imposed tariffs in and of themselves are too small to have a big impact.
George called trade policy a “significant” downside risk to her outlook for economic growth, even as tax cuts and other fiscal policy is an upside risk.