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

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.


Analysts urge Canada to focus on boosting the economy

Updated 06 July 2020

Analysts urge Canada to focus on boosting the economy

  • Canada lost one of its coveted triple-A ratings in June when Fitch downgraded it for the first time

TORONTO: Canada should focus on boosting economic growth after getting pummeled by the COVID-19 crisis, analysts say, even as concerns about the sustainability of its debt are growing, with Fitch downgrading the nation’s rating just over a week ago.

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau will deliver a “fiscal snapshot” on Wednesday that will outline the current balance sheet and may give an idea of the money the government is setting aside for the future.

As the economy recovers, some fiscal support measures, which are expected to boost the budget deficit sharply, could be wound down and replaced by incentives meant to get people back to work and measures to boost economic growth, economists said.

“The only solution to these large deficits is growth, so we need a transition to a pro-growth agenda,” said Craig Wright, chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada. The IMF expects Canada’s economy to contract by 8.4 percent this year. Ottawa is already rolling out more than C$150 billion in direct economic aid, including payments to workers impacted by COVID-19.

Further stimulus measures could include a green growth strategy, as well as spending on infrastructure, including smart infrastructure, economists said. Smart infrastructure makes use of digital technology.

“We have to make sure that government spending is calibrated to the economy of the future rather than the economy of the past,” Wright said.

Canada lost one of its coveted triple-A ratings in June when Fitch downgraded it for the first time, citing the billions of dollars in emergency aid Ottawa has spent to help bridge the downturn caused by COVID-19 shutdowns.

Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and DBRS still give Canadian debt the highest rating. At DBRS, Michael Heydt, the lead sovereign analyst on Canada, says his concern is about potential structural damage to the economy if the slowdown lingers too long.

Fiscal policymakers “need to be confident that there is a recovery underway before they start talking about (debt) consolidation,” Heydt said.

Fitch expects Canada’s total government debt will rise to 115.1 percent of GDP in 2020 from 88.3 percent in 2019.

Royce Mendes, a senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said the economy still needs more support.

“Turning too quickly toward austerity would be a clear mistake,” he said.