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BMW open to further collaboration with JLR, says CEO

BMW's CEO refused to rule out that the firm could potentially further its collaboration with JLR in the future

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BMW’s boss has refused to deny that his company could collaborate further with Jaguar Land Rover, or invest in the British company outright. 

Industry sources suggested earlier this week that JLR owner Tata is actively courting both BMW and a number of Chinese firms including Geely for investment that would allow it to develop new models and the electrification technologies that are going to be increasingly important towards the end of the next decade.

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Speaking at the opening of BMW’s new Battery Cell Competence Centre in Munich, the German manufacturer’s CEO Oliver Zipse left the door open on whether his firm could build on an existing deal with JLR, announced in the summer, to develop electric drive units. “Cooperation and working together is the new normal,” Zipse said. “It’s not only with drivetrains. We also have arrangements with a lot of other component manufacturers, where we go far beyond the normal supply chain.

“With Jaguar Land Rover, we have announced cooperation on the electric drivetrain and that’s running very well. We have another cooperation with them on internal combustion engines. Anything else is the future. There’s no decision on it and I wouldn’t comment on something that has not been decided.”

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Zipse also defended BMW’s strategy of CLAR and FAAR - its two platform architectures that can support diesel, petrol, plug-in hybrid and pure-electric vehicles. Other brands, including Mercedes-Benz and the Volkswagen Group, have invested heavily in bespoke electric platforms which they believe offer benefits in packaging and efficiency that outweigh the reduction in production flexibility that they bring.

But when asked when BMW would have to consider making its own standalone electric-car platform, Zipse said, “In our one architecture you can integrate all components. You don’t have to compromise here. For this it takes a lot of effort and thinking, and we’re on the way to doing that. We think it’s our USP: you don’t need architecture on its own [for EVs]. 

“You may see some BMW models with platforms of their own; there will be one in two years’ time,” he added, referring to the iNEXT. “But for the mass market we don’t see the need for a specific platform. There’s only one reason why you’d do that: you have been too slow and you have to put on speed.”

Do you think a closer relationship between BMW and JLR is a good thing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below...

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Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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