Golden BMW Concept Car Steers Clear of Paint Shop: Munich Update

(Bloomberg) — Munich plays host this week to IAA Mobility, where European automakers and their suppliers will be unveiling wares together for the first time since before Covid.

When Germany last held such a forum two years ago, it would have seemed odd to promote a car’s ability to shield passengers from viruses. Semiconductors weren’t on the tip of every auto executive’s tongue. Electric vehicles weren’t selling so briskly, and supply chains were functioning just fine.

Bloomberg News is speaking with the chief executives of Volkswagen AG, BMW AG, Daimler AG and Renault SA, as well as leaders of suppliers including Robert Bosch GmbH and Continental AG, about these topics and more.

Key Stories:

  • The CEOs of VW and Daimler warn chips will be scarce for several years
  • BMW orders up $24 billion of battery cells
  • VW-backed Argo AI expands its autonomous vehicle testing
  • Mercedes unveils the E-Class’s electric sibling

BMW Sees Recycling as Key to Independence (11:24 a.m. Monday)

BMW wants to get people talking about another part of the sustainability puzzle: how do you recycle and reduce the sweep of materials that go into making a car?

The automaker is touting its BMW i Vision Circular concept vehicle that it says vastly cuts the use of primary materials. The BMW logo on the front hood is lasered on, reducing the need for a badge made from different-colored cuts of metal or plastic. The vehicle gets its golden hue from ionizing the bodywork rather than applying layer upon and layer of color in the paint shop. And those love-them-or-hate-them kidney grilles? BMW is sticking with them; they’re just made of LED lights rather than steel.

“We will need fewer primary resources that will also allow us to be more economically independent,” BMW CEO Oliver Zipse said during the vehicle’s unveiling.

Renault Unveils Megane EV in Quest for Renewal (9:30 a.m.)

Renault unveiled the electric Megane to replace the aging Zoe EV that has lost its top spot in Europe to rivals pushing newer, snazzier models.

CEO Luca de Meo said the Megane was the manufacturer’s attempt to reinvent itself and “play in the major league” by attacking the all-important mid-size segment that accounts for around 40% of the European market.

The Megane will have a range of as much as 470 kilometers (292 miles) and can be fast-charged for 300 kilometers of range in about half an hour.

BMW Boosts Battery Orders to Meet EV Demand (8:49 a.m.)

Prospects for EVs are running ahead of expectations, judging by BMW AG’s decision to significantly raise its orders of battery cells. The German carmaker has lifted contracted volumes to more than 20 billion euros ($23.7 billion), up from 12 billion euros previously, according to its CEO. 

Trying to overcome supply-chain vulnerabilities is the main focus for the car industry as it gets hammered by chip shortages. BMW has fared better than others, but expects the bottlenecks to continue for “many, many months,” Zipse said in an interview.

VW’s Diess Sees Chip Shortages for Years to Come (8:33 a.m.)

The CEOs of VW and Daimler are downbeat about how long semiconductors will be scarce and disrupt their production.

“Probably we will remain in shortages for the next months or even years because semiconductors are in high demand,” VW’s chief Herbert Diess said on Bloomberg Television. “The internet of things is growing and the capacity ramp-up will take time. It will be probably a bottleneck for the next months and years to come.”

Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius cautioned on Sunday that the shortage may not entirely go away next year and could take until 2023 to be resolved.

Valeo Promotes Its Premium Air Filters (8 a.m.)

Concerns about Covid-19 and air pollution are feeding demand for premium air filters for cars, according to Valeo SA. The French parts maker forecasts the market will grow by a third every year between 2020 and 2023, with half of all new autos fitted with the technology within five years.

Valeo says its filters will block 99.4% of viruses and 96% of allergens as well as ultra-fine particles, gases, fungi and mold. Starting next year, a premium German automaker that the supplier won’t name will outfit one of its models with Valeo’s air-quality diagnostic technology designed to detect pollution. Sensors analyze fine particles both inside and outside the car and activate an air recycling system when concentrations are too high.

VW’s Self-Driving Partner Talks Testing (8:30 p.m. Sunday)

Argo AI, VW’s partner developing self-driving technology, is just a few months away from starting to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in Germany, Chief Executive Officer Bryan Salesky said.

At an event hosted by VW’s CEO, the two debuted a test vehicle prototype. They’ve equipped the ID.Buzz — an electric iteration of the famed microbus VW was known for in the 1960s — with cameras, radar and lidar sensors that can detect objects more than 400 meters (437 yards) away.

Mercedes Unveils the Electric EQE (6:30 p.m.)

Fresh off starting sales of its new flagship electric sedan, the EQS, Mercedes-Benz is following up with its second serious plug-in car: the E-Class’s battery-powered brother.

The EQE, launching in mid-2022, is the second Mercedes built off a new dedicated electric-vehicle platform, rather than underpinnings converted from a combustion model. The ground-up approach results in better range — up to 660 kilometers — and a roomier interior than the E-Class.

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