BMW manager set to join E.ON supervisory board as energy, auto sectors converge

FILE PHOTO: Klaus Froehlich, board member of German luxury carmaker BMW attends the company's annual news conference in Munich, Germany, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Klaus Froehlich, the BMW BMWG.DE board member in charge of development, is set to join energy group E.ON's EONGn.DE supervisory board, the latest sign of convergence between both sectors in the area of electric mobility.

E.ON will propose Froehlich as a candidate at its annual general meeting scheduled for May 9, according to the event’s official invitation published on E.ON’s website on Tuesday. He will remain in his position at BMW.

Carmakers and utilities have increased cooperation in the wake of an expected boom in battery-powered vehicles, requiring both industries to radically rethink their supply chains and business models.

Most advanced in e-mobility among German carmakers, BMW unveiled its first battery electric car in 2013, and has been working on different generations of battery, software and electric motor technology since then.

It wants to add 25 new electrified models by 2025, of which 12 vehicles will be fully battery electric variants.

The cross-industry trend also includes executives swapping industries, such as Stefan von Dobschuetz, who last year joined German energy group Innogy IGY.DE to co-head its e-mobility unit after serving as general manager for BMW's electric i brand.

Under a landmark deal to break up Innogy, unveiled last month, its e-mobility unit will be swallowed by E.ON, which already has a similar business and will get greater scale in the quest to built the infrastructure needed for electric cars.

Some carmakers have also started to enter the utility business, taking a leaf out of Tesla's TSLA.O strategy book of offering cars, charging infrastructure and batteries.

Renault-Nissan RENA.PA7201.T, for example, is drawing up plans to build a 100 megawatt power storage plant in Europe, hoping to give electric car batteries a second life in a project that could eventually compete with utilities.

Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Adrian Croft