Whether on the Nürburgring or the motorway, Burkhard Göschel loves to drive fast cars. Yet dynamism is not the only constant in the life of the passionate engineer. According to his credo, only those who are efficient at the same time will win the race for the future.
Berg, a small community on the banks of the lake known as Starnberger See. The scene is nice and tranquil on this particular morning. You hear Burkhard Göschel before you see him. Or rather, you hear his automobile, an older BMW M5, which can coax more than 500 horsepower from its ten cylinders. Göschel has loved driving fast for as long as he can remember. His father, himself a renowned engine developer in the services ofDaimler-Benz, used to take him to Formula 1 races when he was still a schoolboy. Many years later, during Göschel’s time on the board at BMW, his developers would tremble whenever he climbed behind the wheel of a prototype vehicle at the Nürburgring. They knew that this man drove every car to its dynamic limits. Yet an unbridled passion for driving is just one side of Burkhard Göschel. On the other side Göschel launched the ‘Efficient Dynamics’ initiative at BMW, aimed at cutting CO2 emissions across the entire model range. The same man has been involved in the German National Platform for Electric Mobility since 2011 and is president of the FIA commission for alternative powertrains in motor sport. The same man is now on the supervisory board of a manufacturer of electric energy accumulators – and is also honorary chairman of the FVV.
The BMW Driving Academy in Maisach is the manufacturer’s own training centre for ambitious drivers.
It is only a contradiction at first glance. After all, Göschel has been involved in the search for alternative powertrains and fuel-saving technologies since he first started learning his craft. In his doctoral dissertation at the University of Stuttgart, he worked on lean-burn concepts for petrol engines as part of an FVV project. These engines were powered in the same way as a diesel engine with excess air and thus burned the fuel particularly efficiently – a concept that is now being discussed again among engine developers, but was practically avant-garde in the 1970s. At the same time, Göschel worked on new engine concepts at the Institut für Motorenbau Prof. Huber in Munich. Among otherthings on the test stand, he tested the first hydrogen-powered reciprocating engine. He also conducted research into the Wankel engine and direct-injection diesel engines for cars.
Göschel joined the engine development division at Daimler in 1976, among other things working on the concept of downsizing, even though it was with relatively large engines: a five-litre biturbo engine which he helped to develop replaced the hefty 6.9-litre naturally aspirated engine. However, Göschel soon moved to competitor BMW, where he worked on the first twelve cylinder engine developed by a German manufacturer after the Second World War. The engine played a key role in definitively re-establishing the image of BMW as a manufacturer of premium automobiles. ‘Back then, the engine was a key factor in defining the prestige of a car,’ says Göschel.
In 1989, rather out of necessity, Göschel took over responsibility for the motorbike division, which was operating in the red at the time. It marked his first step away from the engine towards the vehicle as a whole. Having achieved the turnaround, his mind was free to concentrate on new things. It was in the motorbike division that the idea for a roadster came about. The Z3 was approved by the board and became the first BMW model to be built entirely abroad. A supplier structure had to be established for the new factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Göschel also mastered this task brilliantly. BMW occupied further niches with models that bore his signature: the first X5 off-road vehicle, the Mini, the Z8 super sports car and, not least, the big Range Rover. ‘I have always wanted to explore uncharted territory,’ says Göschel today. His driving skills stand him in good stead. ‘When it comes to a new car, you must be able to feel immediately whether the vehicle, the sitting position and the engine are a good match.’
When Göschel was appointed to the board in 2000, BMW had to strategically realign itself following the split from Rover. A small group of people got together and tried to answer the question of what actually defined BMW. The answer: efficient dynamics. This was to be more than just a buzzword. Long before the EU laid down regulations governing CO2 emissions, Göschel set consumption targets for BMW’s own developers. ‘We needed a visible sign for the customers.’ Accordingly, BMW gradually introduced the Auto Start Stop function in all new models.
Göschel only witnessed the start of series production of ‘Efficient Dynamics’ from the outside. That’s because BMW board members have to retire at the age of 60, which he had reached at the end of 2006. However, Göschel felt too young to retire and continued working for a few years as Chief Technology Officer at the supplier Magna. And he is involved in the German National Platform for Electric Mobility (NPE) – not because In 1989, rather out of necessity, Göschel took over responsibility for the motorbike division, which was operating in the red at the time. It marked his first step away from the engine towards the vehicle as a whole. Having achieved the turnaround, his mind was free to concentrate on new things. It was in the motorbike division that the idea for a roadster came about. The Z3 was approved by the board and became the first BMW model to be built entirely abroad. A supplier structure had to be established for the new factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Göschel also mastered this task brilliantly. BMW occupied further niches with models that bore his signature: the first X5 off-road vehicle, the Mini, the Z8 super sports car and, not least, the big Range Rover. ‘I have always wanted to explore uncharted territory,’ says Göschel today. His driving skills stand him in good stead. ‘When it comes to a new car, you must be able to feel immediately whether the vehicle, the sitting position and the engine are a good match.’ he believes in the swift demise of the combustion engine, but because he is convinced that an element of road traffic will be electrified in future, particularly in urban spaces. ‘Electrification is not the be-all and end-all, but future regulations governing consumption and emissions cannot be achieved without electrification.’
Burkhard Göschel is not an ‘either/or’ man, but rather a ‘both/ and’ type of person. He believes that the automobile manufacturers’ business model is changing; that digital mobility services will become more important than powerful engines to young city slickers. Yet he also continues to believe in the emotional driving experience. ‘There will always be people like me – and that is why there will be a need for cars like my M5’. It is not the only high-performance vehicle parked in his garage. Two M3 cars and a Lotus are waiting for Göschel to fire them up.
Photo Credit: FVV | Rui Camilo
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After graduating from the TU Munich with a degree in mechanical engineering, Göschel worked at the independent Institut für Motorenbau Prof Huber and was awarded a doctorate for his work on an FVV project during his time there. In 1976 he joined Daimler-Benz, but moved to BMW engine development two years later. Göschel took over responsibility for development in BMW’s motorbike division in 1989. From 1993 onwards he oversaw various new vehicle concepts in his role as project manager. In 1999 he was given responsibility for the development of the entire vehicle; one year later he became a member of the board. He retired from BMW in 2006 in line with company policy and took on the role of Chief Technology Officer from 2007 until 2013 at the supplier Magna. Göschel was chairman of the board of FVV between 2001 and 2007 and is now honorary chairman of the research association.
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