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BMW Megacity EV – Click above for high-res image gallery

As more details about BMW's upcoming Megacity EV trickle out, we learn that the electric city car will be offered with an optional small internal combustion engine designed to replenish the depleted batteries while the vehicle is driven. The news, delivered by BMW Financial Officer Frederick Eichinerto to German website Focus.de, is interesting as the Megacity was first reported to be solely a pure EV vehicle.

With a lightweight carbon fiber chassis, BMW's Megacity has enough space up front to accommodate the optional engine without worry. Therefore, customers will have the choice of leaving the space empty (to increase luggage capacity) or have the combustion engine fitted (to increase range).

The Megacity will use lithium-ion batteries with a reported 35 kWh of capacity. It is expected to have a driving range in pure-EV mode of about 100 miles. The range-extender engine should add to that significantly – good news to customers still fraught with range anxiety.


  • BMW Group Megacity Vehicle Design Sketch (07/2010)
  • BMW Group Megacity Vehicle Design Sketch (07/2010)
  • Lithium-Ion high voltage storage battery (06/2010)
  • Lithium-Ion high voltage storage battery (06/2010)
  • High voltage storage battery module and Lithium-Ion battery cell (06/2010)
  • High voltage storage battery module with Lithium-Ion battery cells (06/2010)
  • BMW Group Development Electric Drivetrain: Electric Motor and Gearbox (06/2010)
  • BMW Group Development Electric Drivetrain: Electric Motor and Gearbox (06/2010)
  • BMW Group Development Electric Drivetrain: Electric Motor (06/2010)
  • BMW Group Development Electric Drivetrain: Electric Motor (06/2010)
  • BMW Group Development Electric Drivetrain: Power Electronics (06/2010)
  • BMW Group Development Electric Drivetrain: Power Electronics (06/2010)
  • BMW Group Development Electric Drivetrain: Power Electronics (06/2010)
  • BMW Group Development Electric Drivetrain: Power Electronics (06/2010)
  • BMW Group Development Electric Drivetrain: Power Electronics (06/2010)
  • BMW Group Development Electric Drivetrain: Power Electronics (06/2010)
  • BMW Group Development Electric Drivetrain: Power Electronics (06/2010)
  • BMW Group Development Electric Drivetrain: Power Electronics (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Experimental vehicle platform with body in white structure made from CFRP (06/2010)
  • Weight comparison between steel bumper carrier and CFRP bumper carrier (06/2010)
  • Carbonfibre coil (06/2010)
  • Precursor for manufactoring of CFRP components (06/2010)
  • CFRP bumper carrier BMW M6 (06/2010)
  • Carbonfibre fabric (06/2010)
  • CFRP-Roof BMW M3: Fibre Layering (06/2010)
  • CFRP-Roof BMW M3 (06/2010)
  • CFRP-Roof BMW M3 (06/2010)
  • BMW plant Landshut: Milling of the carbon roof of the BMW M3(06/2010)
  • BMW plant Landshut: Separator coating in the RTM Press (Resin Transfer Mould) (06/2010)
  • BMW plant Landshut: Removal of the CFRP roof of the BMW M3 from the RTM (Resin Transfer Moulding) press (06/2010)
  • BMW plant Landshut: Preforming of the CFRP roof of the BMW M3 (06/2010)
  • BMW plant Landshut: Preforming tool for the CFRP roof of the BMW M3 (06/2010)
  • BMW plant Landshut: Preforming of the CFRP roof of the BMW M3 (06/2010)
  • BMW plant Landshut: Layering of the CFRP roof of the BMW M3 (06/2010)
  • BMW plant Landshut: Layering of the CFRP roof of the BMW M3 (06/2010)

[Source: BMWBLOG]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 31 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      If the range extender really happens it should be interesting to see it's configuration. Since this vehicle will be an EV w/ pretty good range it should be used very little and that should dictate a much different engine than the Volt. I would think, in keeping w/ the Megacity's light wt., it also would be light wt and of small displacement......but what about cycle efficiency?? That's always important too me, however one could argue against it since it is used so seldom.

      I'd like to see a little 2 cylinder diesel. Turbocharged. and of course a pure series setup. Totally different than the Volt!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Here's a guess ...

      Perhaps the Megacity range extender (due to its compact size) isn't capable of propelling the car at highway speeds. But what it can do is add in about 25 miles of highway range for every hour that it runs. Combined with a scattering of level 3 quick charge stations along the highway, this combination would allow you to travel for 2 hrs, quick charge for 30, travel for 2 hours, quick charge for 30, etc....

      Or. If you were parked for an hour (with no charging available) you just leave the genset running and when you come back to the car you've got another 25 miles in the electric tank.

      I would like to see BMW use the Wankel as well. Properly insulated, you could probably run that at optimum power/efficiency all the time (even parked) without NVH issues.

      At least, this is my idea of what a "city car EV + RE" (done right) could be.

      /I'd like to see the RE option add no more than $5,000-$7,000 to the purchase price.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Ok, and another thought.

        Another advantage of the "Range Extender in a box" option is it gives you "commute range insurance".

        Let's say you've had the car (purchased w/o the RE) for several years and the battery has degraded to the point that you commute is now pushing the aged batteries range to its limits. Or perhaps you've had a job change which requires a much longer commute.

        With a regular BEV your options are to either sell the car or get a new/refurbished battery pack.

        BUT ... with the add on range extender, a shop could probably install the Range extender box in a few hours. Perhaps leasing the RE on a monthly basis... giving you time to arrange financing for a new battery/ trade the car/ or just drive more on gas.
        • 4 Years Ago
        And another thought....

        If they did put in a 15 kw wankel (like what was the reported design on Audi's etron), then that's going to be about 45 miles of electric fuel added back into your battery tank for every hour the Range extender is run (assuming a series design).

        I have occasionally zeroed out the average speed on my car's MFD and don't think I have ever seen anything higher than 45 mph average speed displayed while driving in the city.

        From these two highly scientific data points we can conclude that the 15 kw range extender will "keep up" if you are primarily doing city driving.

        (and, .. BTW,.... let us not forget this is designed to be a city car, not a road tripping long haul machine.)
        • 4 Years Ago
        I wonder if there's any chance BMW would collaborate with Audi on their Wankel range extender ... do they ever work together?

        I like the Lotus idea but wonder about the 3 cylinders. How smooth can that be? -- and jammed into a tight place in a small light-weight car as an "add on" I don't know how good they could get the isolation mounting/ sound proofing?

        Even at the sacrifice of some efficiency, I think the Rotary would just be so much smoother it'd probably be worth it.

        • 4 Years Ago
        There are loads of 3-pots running in Europe and the Far East. They are pretty well, although not perfectly, balanced out.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Carcus:
        I think that's a pretty lousy idea. Here's why. In order to maximize your range, you have on the range extender before the battery runs out. For example, if you want for the battery to run out, then you want to go 25 more miles you actually have to park the car for 35 minutes, then drive.

        To prevent this, you would turn on the RE early so that when you reach the original range limit (100 miles), you already have added 25 miles. You would do this by turning on the RE after only about 60 miles! It's like the reverse of an EREV, this make some trips that could have been made on electricity only into gas trips if you think you want to go further but then change your mind. Worse yet, the control logic is a mess. In order to maximize range, it would have to turn on the RE the moment you start driving! To have it not to this, you would have to enter your intended drive distance as the start so it can turn on the RE as late as possible to still make the distance.

        Additionally, of course, you can get to a point where you simply can't drive any further because the RE can only put in power half as fast as you take it out. So you have to stop for a while while it charges up.

        So basically, your idea sounds pretty much like the worst of all worlds.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It would be much more likely to be sized to provide enough power for steady cruising at freeway speeds, with the battery providing extra power for acceleration. That way, it wouldn't need to waste energy charging up batteries, nor would it require special effort on the part of the driver to "plan ahead" for a recharging stop.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Chris M:
        You can use the Lotus either way. That might be handy if you are on a road trip and wanted to ensure that you kept the battery topped up enough to help with acceleration/long uphill gradients.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Lotus with it's two speeds, 15kw and 35kw, could do better than that, and is light and compact, weighing only 123 lbs.
      It is probably more optimal with a smaller battery pack than this though, so you are probably right in the approximate design specs of the engine they will use.
      How much is the exhaust system and so on likely to add to the weight of the car though?
      There are quite a few extra bits to go in.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm thinking the key to weight control is designing the genset so that the entire thing stays in one box. One nice little compact unit in a stainless box (kind of like how they design APU's on aircraft).

      Seems like they ought to be able to keep the whole thing under 200 lbs.

      Not that it's particularly relevant, .. but... look at dirt bikes. 450cc dirt bikes have gobs of power and don't weigh much more than 200 lbs -- frame, suspension, tranny, wheels and all.
        • 4 Years Ago
        A short block does not comprise the total weight of an engine.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yaaaas.

        I've been told before that I have a lightweight mind.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Great minds think alike:
        'Lotus also made sure that the engine’s operating range is optimized for power generation, with tuning for two “power generation points” offering 15 kilowatts (20 horsepower) at 1,500 RPM and 35 kW (47 horsepower) kW at 3,500 RPM. The integrated generator (shown on the left side in the rendering above) saves space and allows the engine to power the electric motor directly or charge the batteries. In keeping with Lotus’ Omnivore and Trifuel concepts, the Range Extender runs on either alcohol or gasoline.'

        http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/09/lotus-range-extender/

        Total weight way less than your suggested 200lbs, at 123.5lbs!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wouldn't do this if I were BMW.

      Don't get me wrong, I like EREVs. But offering the same vehicle as an EV and an EREV might present some problems. The biggest markets for this car will be European cities. And these cities will give preference to EVs. But if the vehicle might have an ICE in it, I'm not sure it would be eligible for these perks. Look at the Volt as an example.

      BMW, make an EV and an EREV if you want, but make them two different vehicles.
      • 4 Years Ago
      @ 3PeaceSweet

      Comfort and Battery Life Cycles are the main reasons why I will NEVER buy a car with a 50 Miles range battery even if my local dayly commutes are More high tech battery technos should be available @ 600 x cycles than @ 4000, not mentionning fast charges that downgrade batteries twice as fast....

      4/ Finally I'll check the time required to fast recharge it as efficiently as possible. With
      • 4 Years Ago
      My guess is that they will offer 2 models, One like the volt with a range extender and limited battery(16kwh) and the other pure BEV with 35kWh.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It would be great if the range extender only charged the battery period.
      This might cost some efficiency but it would go a long way toward making the range extender truly modular.
      It would be great if it were designed such that the range extender could be installed as a dealer option, and also later removed or swapped for a more efficient model.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't see why it would necessarily have to include the bulk of the fuel or cooling systems.
        A modern exhaust might be more difficult to make modular, I agree there.

        I don't know what the average loss is for charge and discharge of a battery, but physics says some for sure, so I would agree directly powering the electric motor would be better than charging the battery.

        My thought was really that if you do not mingle the range extender with any of the drive line beyond it simply being an electrical source that perhaps you could make it a much easier to swap and more modular part of the system.



        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually, the "range extender" engine/generator shouldn't do much if any battery charging, that is the function of the electrical outlet, as power from the electrical outlet is far cheaper and doesn't burn petroleum fuels. In a series hybrid, the function of the engine/generator is to provide power to the traction motor. The battery only gets charged when there is surplus power, such as when regenerative braking is used.

        While it is technically feasible to design a removable "range extender" engine/generator, it would have to include the cooling system, exhaust, and possibly the fuel tank as well. The weight and complication involved would make it somewhat impractical. Some have proposed a range extender trailer that would be easier to remove and connect, but a bit ungainly to drive. A more conventional plug-in hybrid design would be more practical.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sorry, comment was too long and got mixed up :

      @ 3PeaceSweet

      Comfort and Battery Life Cycles are the main reasons why I will NEVER buy a car with a 50 Miles range battery even if my local dayly commutes are
        • 4 Years Ago
        Looks like you used the "left arrow" as a "less than" character, that caused the comment to be truncated at that point.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't understand much about the Megacity. If it has a lightweight carbon body, why does it only get 100 miles of range out of it's 35kwh battery when the much heavier Leaf is rated at 100 miles on a 24kwh battery?

      Putting in a range extender is hardly just a case of putting in an engine, the exhaust system and numerous other parts would need adding, making it effectively a totally different model.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Aha!
        'BMW says they can power the vehicle up to 100 miles. EPA estimates are more optimistic, and peg the range at up to 150 miles.'

        This is for the Concept ActiveE, the precursor to the Megacity, but presumably they are using the same test cycle.

        http://www.wired.com/autopia/2011/02/electric-bmw-moves-from-concept-to-reality/#more-32463
        • 4 Years Ago
        They may be working on the principle of "under-state and over-perform". Initially stating a modest range, then getting a slightly better official range figure sounds much better than overstating the range initially, then have to deal with the embarrassment of a shorter official range figure.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good to see that BMW is starting to get SERIOUS with Plug In Electric cars, adding the mandatory Extended Range (at least as an option here).

      Extended Range is absolutely required to play in the "REAL FUTURE CARS" field, at least till 500 Miles Battery at reasonnable cost and fast recharge comes up, leaving the pure EVs to buyers of "2nd car" limited to local commutes, shared fleets, and other public $ runners...

      Now we need a MUCH LARGER version of that put in the future X4 right from Day 1, early 2012 if possible, with more batteries (>50KWH giving # 200 Miles of Full Electric Range, so I can charge only 2 times per week at home and keep my battery longer), plus a larger extended range generator engine, that can power the car all electric tracting engines, when batteries are depleated, while charging the batteries in the same time, so you can arrive at detination on long vacancies trips, with a fully recharged battery, after a few hundred miles on Extended Range ICE engine.

      I own a beloved BMW 536DA Luxe that I need to replace within a year or 2 by another Real car that should be an SUV formfactor. If BMW comes out with nothing serious on this "Plug In Hybrid with Extended Range" SUV segment, I'll buy whichever Audi Q5/Q7 eTron, or Chevrolet Volt SUV that will become available in the right timing for me, and leave BMW after 20 years of loyalty.

      To be frank I had lost hopes that BMW gets serious here, after years of endless announcements of useless 1st Generation Hybrids, or "Power Hybrids", that make no sense for me (Just add more things and costs and weight and complexity, for negligible benefits).

      Please wake up BMW !
        • 4 Years Ago
        I can't see why you would need a 200 mile range battery and a range extender. I think you would get much better value from a sub 50 mile electric range which could cover all commuting a short distance travel but the vehicle could then still go 500 miles stopping at existing petrol stations.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Some of this doesn't make sense. The battery is supposed to be 35 kWh on a small carbon fiber based vehicle with a range of 100 miles? (the heavy steel based Nissan Leaf has a 24kWh battery with range of ~100 miles depending on conditions)

      35 kWh should be pushing the range way over 100 miles - if it was as efficient as the Leaf (and you'd hope it would be better since god knows what the price tag will look like) you should have range of at least 150 miles on 35 kWh's.
        • 4 Years Ago
        This car is 2 years out. Under promise and over deliver. I have no doubt it will have more than 100 mile range.
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