BMW Expects EV Sales to Keep Growing but at a Slower Pace

Carmaker Sticking to Plan to Up Manufacturing at S.C. Facility
BMW production line
Cars are assembled in the BMW Group factory in Munich, Germany. (Leonhard Simon/Getty Images via Bloomberg News)

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

BMW AG remains bullish on battery-powered electric vehicles in the U.S., even though it’s expecting the sector’s market share gains to slow.

“Is there a growing market for electric vehicles? 100% yes,” Sebastian Mackensen, BMW of North America’s CEO and president, told Bloomberg TV on Dec. 12. “Is the growth on the exact same level as maybe some experts have estimated a year ago or six months ago? Maybe not.”

Mackensen said that BMW plans to manufacture six fully electric vehicle models in its Spartanburg, S.C., plant by 2030. The company also began construction in October on a $700 million high-voltage battery assembly plant in nearby Woodruff, S.C.

Last month, the United Auto Workers named BMW’s Spartanburg plant as one if its targets for a unionization push. While not addressing that drive directly, Mackensen said his company’s compensation packages are competitive, noting benefits include the ability to lease a BMW.

The German automaker is countering EVs being priced higher than gasoline-powered vehicles by offering lease credits to retail customers, which allows the company to tap into federal subsidies. That makes its electric lineup more affordable.

“The consumer doesn’t seem to be open to pay a real price premium for a different propulsion technology,” Mackensen said in a separate interview on Dec. 12. Leasing helps reduce the price gap, he said.

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing above or go here for more info

BMW views EV market leader Tesla Inc. as a good measure of interest in EVs and doesn’t see a partisan divide in demand between so-called blue states that typically vote for the Democratic Party and Republican-dominated red states.

“I don’t think it’s a red state-blue state issue,” Shaun Bugbee, BMW of North America’s executive vice president, said in the interview. Tesla is the market leader for full electric and “they sell in every state irrespective of color. We see a similar path.”