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The post-combustion era

Over the winter I visited BMW World, and its neighboring museum, in Munich, Germany.

I loved seeing how the company got its start and how far it has come since it helped to invent the automobile at the beginning of the 20th century. I think their first product was actually an airplane engine.

But you and I both know that the paradigm is changing. The internal combustion engine (ICE) is going away and pretty soon we won’t be driving, so much as being driven around by our cars.

Bloomberg recently published an interesting article about this shift and about BMW. Here is an excerpt:

The fact that both combustion engines and electric motors find themselves inside the same 18,000-person complex in Dingolfing, BMW’s largest in Europe, makes it a microcosm of a shift overtaking automakers the world over. A visitor can see that 625-horsepower engine—more than twice as powerful as the original from 1985, a luxury product relentlessly branded as “the ultimate driving machine”—then walk around the corner and see its puny electric replacement. You start thinking the better slogan might be “the ultimate combustion engine.” As in: last of its kind.

Electric motors are a hell of a lot simpler to manufacture (and service) than gasoline engines. BMW estimates that they take about 30% less time to make. So the impacts of this transformation span everything from supply chain to human capital.

Today, about 10% of the work that goes on in Dingolfing is related to electric vehicles.

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