During a recent interview with CNBC.com , mutual fund manager Ron Baron of Baron Capital revealed that two of his analysts recently visited BMW in Germany and the BMW financial team believes that a "revolution in the drive train is underway."
"We believe that BMW will likely phase out internal combustion engines over the next 10 years," Baron wrote in his most recent quarterly letter to shareholders of his funds.
Almost exactly 12 months ago, BMW product chief Herbert Diess told Autocar "all BMW models will soon need to be sold with some form of electrification." BMW’s head of production for large vehicles, Peter Wolf, told motoring.com.au. “We are planning to have a plug-in hybrid in each and every model series.”
We have also regularly reported on a steady stream on informal announcements from German automakers (Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche) regarding their plans to build a 'Tesla killer', but Wall Street financial analysts concluding a major automaker may abandon the production of ICE power plants within a decade still comes as a revelation. It was only four years ago (December 2010) the first mass market electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf, began deliveries to retail customers.
Baron, who holds a $250 Million position in Tesla Motors, believes that of all the major automakers, BMW is the only car company with a 'culture' comparable to that of Tesla. Baron believes the rest of the auto industry is resisting the move to electric vehicles. "As a result, they are developing electric expertise so slowly that the lead Tesla has built up through its fast growing staff ... may soon become insurmountable."
He argues automakers don't want electric vehicles to happen because their engine and transmission plants would become stranded assets. Unions don't want EVs to happen because they are easier to assemble which results in fewer jobs and dealers don't want EVs to happen because of direct sales and lack of vehicle servicing. Electric cars have 18 moving parts compared to 2,000 moving parts in a combustion engined car. EVs simply don't wear out or breakdown leading to lost automaker/dealer revenues.
With global auto sales heading towards 100 Million a year, Baron believes that in 15 years time Tesla could be selling 10 Million vehicles a year.