If Tesla wants to make the Model 3 a success, it could learn a few lessons from BMW.
The German automaker is making preparations for a fleet of all-electric vehicles to arrive in the coming years. It believes one of the keys to success is to make the most of human labor, rather than focusing on automation as Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has made the mistake of doing.
During an interview with Bloomberg during BMW’s annual meeting on Thursday, BMW production network chief Oliver Zipse suggested the importance of workers cannot be overlooked.
“Producing cars in cycles of 60 seconds: That is the deciding factor. To fully automate the assembly process is not our goal, because the human being with its unique properties is unbeatably flexible.”
The Model 3 is Tesla’s first ‘affordable’ vehicle
Successfully producing a car like the Model 3 is made all the more difficult by the entry-level electric vehicle market the car is targeting.
“Maybe there’s more leeway in the top-end market segment above 100,000 euros ($118,000), but as soon as you enter market segments with volumes like the 3- or even in the 5-Series, keeping costs under control is paramount. You can’t allow yourself to have inefficiencies there,” Zipse added.
BMW wants to introduced 12 electrified vehicles by 2025, starting with an all-electric Mini next year. Shortly afterwards, the marque’s iX3 will arrive, followed closely by the i4 sedan, conceived as a rival to the Model 3.
Zipse believes that an automaker needs to be flexible if it wants to turn a profit while producing electric vehicles.
“We are preparing our car architectures and our factories to flexibly integrate this technology. For us, creating that flexibility is the most efficient way to profitably offer electric cars.
“We don’t know exactly how demand for electric cars will develop, so flexibility is crucial. The future market demand for electric cars isn’t an exact science,” Zipse said.