BMW has been rumored as of late to be pursuing everything from a so-called "0 Series" range of cars to a revival of its Isetta microcar brand, but the Bavarian automaker remains essentially mum on plans to diversify into the microcar market. Stoking the fires, however, is the new Simple concept, a leaning trike that is geared toward the "professional commuter" - that is, an urban dweller who travels alone.
From the start, the SIMPLE (which stands for: "Sustainable and Innovative Mobility Product for Low Energy consumption") was designed to minimize resources both in use and in production. The leaning concept is tall as a 5 Series, yet shorter than a Mini Cooper, and it offers seating space similar to that of a 3 Series coupe.
That tidy footprint and a slick drag coefficient of just 0.18 means that the Simple figures to be around 450 kilograms (under 1,000 pounds), so it only needs a small internal-combustion engine and an electric motor to power it. BMW says the Simple is capable of hitting 100 km/h – 62 mph – in under ten seconds and it tops out at over 200 km/h (124 mph), yet it needs a miserly 2 liters of gas over 100 km (62 miles), or around 118 mpg.
This isn't the first time BMW has investigated thrifty trikes – it actually began working on its CLEVER ("Compact Low Emission Vehicle for Urban Transport") concept back in 2002 in conjunction with the Berlin's Technical University, a project that took the form of a compressed natural gas trike with a CVT.
While there are no plans for production of either the SIMPLE or the CLEVER, BMW's expertise in motorcycles and its increasingly prominent Efficient Dynamics initiative doesn't have us ruling out a similar vehicle sometime down the road. In the meantime, you'll have to make the pilgrimage to the BMW Museum to check out BMW's SIMPLE and CLEVER contraptions. Check out the high-res gallery below and a video and press release after the jump.