BMW
and Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG are among a group of more than a dozen private and public entities that are working together on a project designed to speed up the development of urban electric vehicles.

The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) is providing 10.8 million euros ($14.2 million U.S. at today's exchange rates) in funding for what's being called the Visio.M project. Scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) will work with automotive engineers to develop small, city-oriented EVs that have a maximum power of about 15 kW (20 horsepower) and a maximum weight of about 900 pounds (without battery) which would make the car about 45 percent lighter than a Smart ForTwo.

The overall goal here is to develop a car that's light enough to provide a sufficient single-charge urban driving range but strong enough to be as safe as a conventional vehicle.

Of course, the automakers involved already have advanced EV programs. BMW is planning to start selling its battery-electric i3 four-door next year and, earlier this year, started delivering the battery-electric ActiveE, the i3's precursor, to West Coast and East Coast leasing customers. Mercedes-Benz's alt-fuel development has been focused more on diesels and hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles, but is also has its E-Cell models.
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Project Visio.M: Electric mass mobility for urban environments.

03.05.2012

Munich. Electric vehicles powered by electricity from renewable energy sources are an attractive option for mobility within the urban area and beyond. However, previous approaches lead to vehicles that either are too heavy and too expensive or do not meet mass-market safety requirements. Within the joint research project Visio.M scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM), in cooperation with engineers from the automotive industry, will develop concepts to produce electric cars that are efficient, safe, and inexpensive. Lead manager of the project is BMW AG. The project has a total volume of 10.8 million euros and is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).

Electric cars are silent and cause no emissions where they go. Therefore, they are considered an important option for future individual mobility in urban areas and beyond. But on the way to mass production of electric vehicles, there are still significant technological hurdles to overcome. Previous small electric vehicles offer only a minimum level of vehicle safety and therefore are not mass-marketable. Electric cars that were derived from gasoline-powered models are usually too heavy and require large and expensive batteries.

Within the joint research project Visio.M well known companies of the German automotive industry, together with scientists from the Technische Universitaet Muenchen, explore how the price and safety of small, efficient electric vehicles can be brought to a level enabling them to achieve a significant share of the mass market. The mobility concept deriving from these visionaries will be a vehicle with a power of 15 kilowatts and a maximum curb weight of 400 kg (without battery), meeting the requirements of the European regulatory category L7e.

The consortium partners use the electric vehicle prototype MUTE developed by the TU Muenchen as their test carrier to explore innovations and new technologies for vehicle safety, propulsion, energy storage, and operational concepts for implementation under the framework requirements of large-scale production. Special attention is given to safety-related design issues. Despite minimal weight, Visio.M is expected to achieve a level of protection equal to that offered by conventional cars with combustion engines.

Participants in the Visio.M consortium are, in addition to the automotive companies BMW AG (lead manager) and Daimler AG, the Technische Universitaet Muenchen as a scientific partner, and Autoliv BV & Co. KG, the Federal Highway Research Institute (BAST), Continental Automotive GmbH, E.ON AG, Finepower GmbH, Hyve AG, IAV GmbH, InnoZ GmbH, Intermap Technologies GmbH, LION Smart GmbH, Neumayer Tekfor Holding GmbH, Siemens AG, Texas Instruments Germany GmbH and TÜV SÜD AG as industrial partners. The project is funded under the priority program "Key Technologies for Electric Mobility - STROM" of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).


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  • 24 Comments
      amtoro
      • 3 Months Ago
      An organized and complicated alliance to develop a radically new product that still requires years or research and innovation, not to mention billions of dollars in investment... An then, Renault, without all the fuzz, is already selling the Twizy!
        DaveMart
        • 3 Months Ago
        @amtoro
        4 seats?
          amtoro
          • 3 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          City cars in this envisioned category are not 4 seats. They are vehicles for one or two, just for intra-city trips, being "city" a concept that is rarely understood in the US due to the immensity of our cities and the suburbanization of our population centers.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          There is nothing in the press release saying that this is not for 4-seaters. Where is your information from specifying this?
          marcopolo
          • 3 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          @Dave Mart You are correct, except the phrase "about 45 percent lighter than a Smart ForTwo" would seem to imply two-seater vehicles.
      throwback
      • 3 Months Ago
      "The overall goal here is to develop a car that's light enough to provide a sufficient single-charge urban driving range but strong enough to be as safe as a conventional vehicle." Doesn't the i3 already meet this criteria?
        DaveMart
        • 3 Months Ago
        @throwback
        Presumably they are intending to make a city only car, and for a lot less.
      paulwesterberg
      • 3 Months Ago
      My favorite urban/city car concept is the audi urban electric with offset tandem seating. http://green.autoblog.com/2011/08/10/audi-details-electric-urban-concept-w-video/
        budfox
        • 3 Months Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Nice, but I'd take the Opel RAK e. http://www.autoblog.com/2011/09/19/is-the-opel-rak-e-electric-concept-headed-for-production/
      Rick
      • 3 Months Ago
      Future looks great with electrical blackouts forecasts http://www.worldsalvation.info/wp-content/gallery/peak-oil/js-peak-oil.gif
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Rick
        Japan's move away from nuclear to fossil fuel power generation is causing electric rates to increase dramatically.
      Rick
      • 3 Months Ago
      Might be viable at BMW/Mercedes as their buyers might be able to afford the expensive price, but the use of maybe lighter composite materials won't come cheap. Might be viable when the Peak Oil finite fossil fuel supply graph starts the dramatic steep roller coaster ride downwards in the next 5-10 years time. It's a shame Germany has gone for non nuclear power in the future, where will the extra electrical power supplies come from? They are gonna struggle to meet demands for domestic supplies for homes in the future. Funny how Japan are pumping in boatloads of extra very expensive fossil fuels into power their electric, it was on the news today
        Ford Future
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Rick
        Germany is big on solar, finding it has an added benefit of giving all energy a price cap. No Enron style pricing at peak power demand during the day. Germany is saving money with Solar.
        budfox
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Rick
        massive off-shore wind parks. they started already building them. also gas power plants. thats not perfect of course, but to store nuclear waste for 100k years isn't cheap as well. too bad there is no dessert here to grab solar power.
          marcopolo
          • 3 Months Ago
          @budfox
          @budfox I'm afraid the wind power industry has begun to reach it's economic limits, and most new projects are becoming shelved. Only in very rare instances, the wind power industry has proved uneconomic, and unsuitable without massive government subsidies. Regrettably. wind power is another technology that lacks the capacity to provide power on an industrial scale. Like Solar, the idea is very popular, and can be demonstrated in small local instances, so it attracts followers. In reality these technologies can't be upscaled except in the imagination. In contrast, newer types of nuclear power are available, economically viable, and need to be built immediately to remove the dependence on coal. But it's almost impossible to conduct a rational debate on the values of the technology, as advocates for all side become overly passionate, and lack objectivity.
      EZEE
      • 3 Months Ago
      900lbs - Dan Smiles... :)
      marcopolo
      • 3 Months Ago
      Studying, endless discussions on the aesthetics, deep pondering, more committees, government funding, academic research, papers published, perused, peer examined, debated, forgotten, , head scratching, very sombre, very serious announcements by very serious men, diverted by Hydrogen, diverted back to grand important sounding conferences,..... but nothing much accomplished. Meanwhile, Ghosn and the Japanese have been furiously building and selling reliable EV technology for the last 12 years, and the US is beginning to catch up quickly. Even Australia has had a local EV maker selling EV's for longer than Germany. The reason is an addiction to diesel. Like the SUV in the US, it's hard for automakers not to continue developing a profitable, familiar product. The US method of just providing some funding loan guarantees,purchase incentives, and letting the entrepreneurs get on with it, has at least produced Tesla, GM, Volt/Ampera, Smith, Ford FE, Fisker and supported Leaf sales.
        EZEE
        • 3 Months Ago
        @marcopolo
        Had not thought of Diesel's popularity as something that retards development of the hybrids/electrics, but good point. Makes sense though... On the positive side, it looks like there is a lot of stuff being formulated in Europe, so maybe/hopefully... Would be nice for someone out there to try either a version of the Volt, or similar radical idea.
      PR
      • 3 Months Ago
      Electric Japanese "Kei" class cars for the EU? Kei cars have done pretty well in Japan. I can't think why they wouldn't be a good match for Europe too, if that is where this is going.
        Rick
        • 3 Months Ago
        @PR
        Bit of an electric car boom in the UK at the moment, 106 electric car sales in 3 months. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/21/electric-car-uk-sales-sputter Still got a slight little bit of catching up with the 52.933 VW Golfs & 47,888 Ford Fiesta mainly nearly all diesel sales in Europe March 2012 is just 1 months sales. Still the electric car sales are closing the gap? http://www.jato.com/PressReleases/Europe's%20new%20car%20market%20ends%20the%20first%20quarter%20down%20on%202011.pdf
          marcopolo
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Rick
          @Rick, Leaf will begin manufacture soon in the UK, and Renault are already planning a major sales campaign, the Kangoo EV will sell very strongly. Vauxhall, have 3600, orders for Ampera's awaiting delivery. I'm afraid the G-Wiz did the introduction of EV's no favours. The UK is still far behind the US in public charging infrastructure.
        marcopolo
        • 3 Months Ago
        @PR
        @PR Kei cars were a product of special Japanese regulation in the 1950's and 60's since then, safety requirement and demand have almost doubled the size and power of 'Kei' cars. In the same era, Europe and the UK in particular produced some really weird and wonderful little micro-cars. The most successful being the brilliant Issigonis designed original BMC Morris Mini-Minor (Austin 850). The demise of the little cars was partly the growth and speed of traffic, but also because they were incredibly fatal in collisions. Modern expectations, bigger passengers, greater safety equipment, has more or less finished the micro-car as anything but a curiosity. But every so often, a small number of idealists begin to agitate for the reintroduction of a 'people's car'. Despite the fact that the 'people' have no interest in these little death traps. Like Elephants, everybody loves 'em, but nobody wants to own one !
      skierpage
      • 3 Months Ago
      Goal is 400 kg without battery and 15 kW, meanwhile Renault Twizy is 450kg with battery and 13 kW. The MUTE prototype that will be the "test carrier" has a site at http://www.mute-automobile.de/ , it looks like a normal "real" car, a two-seater with a Honda CR-Z vibe. But that site also claims a 75 mph top speed, which isn't credible from only 20 hp. If it's going to be a two-seater that weight target is really ambitious, the Toyota iQ appears to be ~850 kg, and the Smart fortwo is 730 kg. Poor Gordon Murray, I'm sure he's blown past all these targets with his T.25 and T.27 designs, and he has a whole low-cost "iStream" manufacturing process planned out. Just sitting around waiting for someone to write a check...
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Months Ago
      could be good. but they will ef it up. it's a law. even if we forget that the parties involved are evil and will intentionally not do their best, it would be effed up. so the combination of incompetence and unwillingness... it'll be great. I'm so excited..
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