According to BMW, its upcoming electric vehicle will be the first mass-produced vehicle that relies heavily on the use of carbon fiber for its structure, which should help keep the vehicle lightweight, thereby improving its performance and range. BMW has indicated that it hopes to earn valuable information from its 600-plus vehicle fleet of Mini E electric vehicles, 50 of which will be delivered to Chinese customers before the end of 2010.
In related news, BMW has also said that it will show off an electric 5 Series sedan in Beijing. Called the Echo, the electric vehicle was assembled at BMW's Shanyang plant in China with cooperation from the government-backed Tongji University. There are currently no plans to put the vehicle into production, but the automaker hopes to gauge how advanced China's homegrown electric vehicle technology is at present.
Autocar is reporting that the Megacity will have a range of roughly 160 miles per charge, and about 20 percent of that range will be due to an aggressive regenerative braking system (yet another similarity to the Mini E). Further, BMW does not plan to lease its battery packs separately, as some automakers have hinted is a possibility. Instead, BMW believes that its packs will still have 85 percent of their stated capacity after the car's lifespan is complete, making the power sources valuable on the used market to power companies. Interesting, no?
[Source: BMW, Autocar | Image: SnaPsi – CC 2.0]
Munich / Beijing. With the launch of its Megacity Vehicle in 2013, the BMW Group will be bringing its first series-production electric-drive model to market. "With this innovative vehicle, designed from the ground up, we will be creating new benchmarks for electric mobility from 2013 on. Our Megacity Vehicle will be significantly lighter than conventional cars and, in terms of sustainability, will set a new standard across the entire value-added chain," said Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, on Thursday ahead of the Auto China 2010 show in Beijing.
The Megacity Vehicle will be a zero-emission urban car for the world's metropolitan regions. It is currently being developed as part of project i and will be available from 2013 under a sub-brand of BMW. When it comes to the choice of materials, the company is broaching entirely new territory. This is because weight plays a pivotal role in the range achievable by electrically driven vehicles. The ultra-light yet high-strength composite CFRP (carbon fibre-reinforced plastic), for example, plays a significant part in the materials mix.
"This vehicle will radically alter the motor industry as we know it. The BMW Group is currently the only company that will be launching a volume-production vehicle on the market that features carbon fibre-reinforced material," explained Reithofer. "We were among the first manufacturers to pick up on the trend towards electric mobility and to act accordingly. More and more people around the globe are very keen on electric driving. Research shows, moreover, that more than half of the population around the world already live in conurbations," Reithofer added.
The BMW Group has been gleaning insights into the day-to-day use of electric vehicles since mid-2009, when it launched a global field test involving more than 600 MINI E models. During the test phase some 50 MINI E cars are also being delivered to customers in China in 2010.
"I am convinced that our Chinese clients will show the same enthusiasm for the vehicle as MINI E drivers in Germany, the USA and Britain," emphasised Reithofer. 2011 will see the handover to Chinese customers of a further fleet based on the BMW Concept ActiveE. The renowned China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC) and the state-owned energy supply company State Grid are involved as partners in the preparation, implementation and assessment of the practical use of these vehicles. The project has the backing of both the Chinese and the German governments.
The results will filter into the development of electrically powered vehicles for the Chinese market. "In the future we will also be offering a New Energy Vehicle in China. This will be developed and produced locally together with our joint venture partner Brilliance," stated Reithofer
BMW gathered its first experiences with electric-drive vehicles some 40 years ago courtesy of a modified BMW 1602 that led the long-distance walking and marathon running events in the 1972 Summer Olympics. In subsequent decades this alternative drive technology was further pursued using many mobile test beds, including the revolutionary BMW E1.
The BMW Group
The BMW Group is one of the most successful manufacturers of automobiles and motorcycles in the world with its BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brands. As a global company, the BMW Group operates 24 production facilities in 13 countries and has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.
The BMW Group achieved a global sales volume of approximately 1.29 million automobiles and over 87,000 motorcycles for the 2009 financial year. The pre-tax profit for 2009 was euro 413 million, revenues totalled euro 50.68 billion. At 31 December 2009, the company employed a global workforce of approximately 96,000 associates.
The success of the BMW Group has always been built on long-term thinking and responsible action. The company has therefore established ecological and social sustainability throughout the value chain, comprehensive product responsibility and a clear commitment to conserving resources as an integral part of its strategy. As a result of its efforts, the BMW Group has been ranked industry leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes for the last five years.